Sheffield United: Clough looks ahead to Charlton clash

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Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has told his players to enjoy today’s FA Cup quarter-final against Charlton Athletic.

Clough’s team joined the likes of Manchester City and Sunderland in the last eight of the competition after beating Nottingham Forest in the previous round and, despite knowing that a place at Wembley is at stake, the former England international insisted this afternoon’s contest remains one to savour.

“We’ve tried to say to them to go and enjoy it,” Clough said. “That’s what we’ll try to do.

“You see teams that look happy and you can see teams that aren’t. I hope we look like a happy team.

“Wembley is enough. That’s what should be on every player’s mind.

“Not to make them nervous or negative but to make them think ‘We’re 90 minutes away here.’ It’s a chance that a lot of players never enjoy during their entire careers.”

United knocked-out Aston Villa and Fulham en route to their meeting with Forest. But, despite those eye-catching results, Clough cited their second round tie at Cambridge United as the defining moment of the League One club’s march into the later stages of the competition.

“Hanging on at Cambridge. At 1-0 up we were under the cosh against opponents who were flying at that time but we went on to win 2-0,” he said. “So, if you ask me when I thought we might do something it was then. Then and certainly Ryan Flynn’s goal at Villa Park.

“At Villa, once they got back to 1-1 with 15 minutes to go, you think it will be all them but we popped up with another goal.”

Harry Maguire (knee) and Jamie Murphy (groin) are scheduled to undergo late fitness checks before United name their starting eleven while John Brayford is also a major doubt after damaging a muscle at MK Dons last weekend. Kieron Freeman, signed on loan from Derby County, is expected to provide cover over the next four weeks.

That result, coupled with Tuesday’s 2-0 success over Peterborough, means United have now won all of their previous eight games.

Clough was asked during Thursday’s pre-match media briefing what his late father Brian, who twice led Forest to European glory, would have made of United’s progress having never lifted the FA Cup.

“I could never emulate what he’s done,” Clough said. “I could never emulate dad I honestly don’t view it in those terms.

“I’m just trying to get to Wembley for Sheffield United and everything it would mean to everyone here, more than anything from the past. The present is all that matters.”