Manager Nigel Clough admits Sheffield United’s fortunes throughout a “huge month” of January will largely shape the course of their season.
Clough’s side, who kick off their 2015 fixtures on Sunday with an FA Cup third round tie away at Premier League side Queens Park Rangers, also face Tottenham Hotspur in a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final this month, with crucial league clashes against fellow promotion hopefuls Preston, Milton Keynes Dons, Rochdale and Swindon also to come.
United, in sixth, trail second-placed Swindon by 14 points, and sit just one point and one place clear of Chesterfield.
And Clough, who denied any speculation linking him with Spireite Sam Morsy but refused to comment on reports linking him to team-mate Eoin Doyle, said: “January is a huge month, there’s no getting away from it.
“It’s make or break time, especially in the cups, but in the league, too, to a certain degree.
“The teams we play in that period - MK Dons, Swindon, Preston and Rochdale - all have similar ambitions to ourselves and I think at the end of the month, we’ll have a more realistic idea about where we are in relation to those teams, and where we can realistically expect to finish at the end of the season.
“But at the same time it’s a month to look forward to, with four good league games and two mouthwatering games against Spurs.
“There’ll be some good games in there, I’m sure.”