Chris Wilder has challenged Sheffield United to prove they can cope with the pressure of a promotion push during the second half of the League One season.
United enter Boxing Day’s fixture against Oldham Athletic second in the table, three points behind leaders Scunthorpe, with 24 matches left to play.
Wilder, who warned he is “not scared” to make changes if standards slip, said: “If you play for this club, if you are involved with this club, you know what’s coming. The players have really risen to the challenge and, on the flip side of that, have been backed 100 per cent. But it’s a long old season and we have to keep it going all the way through. On and off the pitch.”
United, who yesterday announced their will now visit Southend on January 7 after their match with Fleetwood Town was postponed, will reach the halfway stage of the competition when Stephen Robinson’s side travel to South Yorkshire next week. Ethan Ebanks-Landell is set to feature after returning to his parent club Wolverhampton Wanderers for an assessment on Monday. Although the defender’s loan agreement can be terminated in January, senior figures at United are growing increasingly confident it will be allowed to run until the end of the campaign.
Wilder must also decide if youngsters such as Ben Whiteman and Louis Reed remain a part of his squad or are allowed to arrange loan moves of their own. Despite previously stating he does not want to reduce the options at his disposal, United’s manager is aware that regular first team football will accelerate their development.
“We won’t be scared to change a winning team,” Wilder said. “We look at the opposition, at our players and decide what gives us the best chance of winning the game. But I also understand that when players are in a winning team that they want to stay in.
“Everyone knows what’s is required of them now.”