Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough was full of praise for his side’s character, after they bounced back from their horror show at Swindon to reach the last 16 of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday evening.
United, who were paired with MK Dons in last night’s draw, progressed thanks to Michael Higdon’s early goal, in a 1-0 win over Leyton Orient at the Matchroom Stadium.
Clough, who just days earlier had seen his side dismantled by Swindon in a heavy 5-2 reverse, had urged his side to bounce back in style - and was content with their response. He said: “After Saturday, the most important thing was to show some character. And we did that to a man.
“We just had to try and play properly as we know we can. Stop conceding the goals. And we did that. Irrespective of how we play going forward, there’s no reason why we can’t defend like that all the time.
“There were headers going in and people throwing themselves in front of the ball. We want to progress as a team but that underpins it all. There was a lot of aggression out there.”
Clough, who has seen United play seven of their last nine games in league and cup away from Bramall Lane, has given his players some time off at home ahead of Saturday’s return to League One action, at home to Gillingham.
The United manager hopes that the rest will allow injuries to Jay McEveley (hamstring), Marc McNulty (calf) and Stefan Scougall (knee) to heal, although Jose Baxter is a certain absentee with a continued hamstring complaint.
“Hopefully they’ll be okay for Saturday,” Clough continued.
“We’ll see how they are after a couple of days off. We’ve been up and down the country on the bus for the last seven or eight days, so it’s important that they get some time at home.
“We’re desperate for three points against Gillingham and if we get them, it’ll push us even further towards the top six. Then, it’ll have been a really good few weeks for us.”
The United manager reserved special praise for Stephen McGinn after the Leyton Orient victory, hailing him as the “ultimate professional”.
McGinn made only his second appearance of the season against Orient, and Clough revealed: “He’s never moaned - just got on with things in every training session, which is great.”