WIN, lose or draw, Sheffield United’s future is unlikely to be settled in Colchester tonight.
But, despite their best efforts to convince otherwise, the demeanour of Danny Wilson and his players at Shirecliffe yesterday betrayed the fact that the result of this re-arranged fixture against their namesakes from Essex will exert considerable influence over the race for automatic promotion from League
A repeat of September’s triumph over John Ward’s side would see United move four points clear of third-placed Sheffield Wednesday and seven ahead of Huddersfield Town in fourth. Fail and their margin for error throughout the remaining 10 games of the campaign will be uncomfortably slim.
“Colchester will be
quite definitive for us,” Wilson said. “It could make the table very interesting at the top.
“We’ve got a home game (against Tranmere Rovers) coming up at the weekend. A lot of the others are away.
“Some teams are playing with freedom. Others are being dogged but we’re all very determined.
“Our destiny at the moment – if you want to speak in clinical terms – is in our own hands. But it might flick into somebody else’s hands at one stage and then come back to us.”
Wilson’s surety stems from the mental strength he insists his team have demonstrated in recent weeks.
upon Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Brentford, which saw United arrest a run of two successive defeats and remain second in the rankings, he said: “Our performance down there epitomised that. There were a lot of questions being asked about us - not from within the camp I hasten to add - from lots of different sources.
“People were trying to put us under pressure but we didn’t show any nerves and the lads demonstrated the work ethic running through the squad.”
“Having characters such as James Beattie, Richard Cresswell and Nick Montgomery in the dressing room helps,” added Wilson. “They are vital because of the steadying influence they bring.
“The dressing room looks after itself. I let the players police
it themselves. I don’t like to or want to get involved in that aspect of things. With professionals like that around I know it’s in good hands.”
Although Wilson claimed he has little interest in the results of United’s promotion rivals, Chris Porter, who also attended the club’s pre-match media briefing, admitted to
keeping a watching brief on events else
where in the table.
who will be fast-tracked into the Championship is an exercise in assumption and guesswork.
But, if previous results this season are replicated between now and May, United would finish on 92 points ahead of Wednesday (87), MK Dons (85) and Town (81).
Wilson, though, is looking no further than this evening’s trip to the Weston Homes Community Stadium where United will encounter opponents who recently claimed the scalp of leaders Charlton Athletic.
“Anyone who goes to The Valley and comes away with something has got ability,” Wilson said. “Colchester have got that.
“John (Ward) is an excellent and very experienced manager so they’ll be disciplined and have a game plan.
“But, without being disrespectful, I’m more bothered about us. John will be exactly the same too.”
One to watch
Anthony Wordsworth is highly regarded by Colchester’s coaching staff. Has scored an impressive 11 goals from midfield this season, with two of those coming in his last four games. Wordsworth netted five last term.
Colchester were beaten 3-0 when they visited Bramall Lane earlier this term with Ched Evans, Stephen Quinn and Chris Porter all scribbling their names on the scoresheet. Both their meetings in the Championship four seasons ago ended in draws.