Clough’s challenge to Blades

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough
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Manager Nigel Clough has challenged his Sheffield United players to bounce back from their FA Cup exit, with victory at Gillingham this weekend.

Less than a week after their Capital One Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Spurs, United tumbled out of the FA Cup after a 3-1 fourth-round replay defeat to Preston at Bramall Lane.

Clough, who made ten changes for the visit of Simon Grayson’s men, admitted the lacklustre performance had made his selection for the Gillingham clash a lot more straightforward.

And the Blades boss added: “That display showed why we needed to bring players in during the transfer window. We have six or seven players cup tied and we’ll need them to freshen up the team now.

“We can concentrate fully on the league now... it’s a cliché but it certainly applies to us now. We have 21 games left of the season and we want to challenge the top two if possible. If not, then we want to get in the top six.

“But we haven’t given up entirely and we have a big game at Gillingham this weekend. That’s the important one now and it’s vital that we bounce back from the Preston game in the right manner.

“We could put ourselves right back in the mix if we have a good February... there are a lot of winnable games coming up and we need to build on our very good win over Swindon last weekend.”

United travel to Kent sixth in the League One standings, 16 points behind second-placed MK Dons and only a point ahead of Rochdale in seventh.