Sheffield United: Cup run can help Blades battle for survival

Sheffield United's Nigel Clough and Ray Wilkins of Fulham share a chat before kick-off
Sheffield United's Nigel Clough and Ray Wilkins of Fulham share a chat before kick-off
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Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has dismissed claims that his team’s FA Cup exploits threatens its bid for League One survival, writes James Shield.

United face the unenviable prospect of playing four times in 11 days after last weekend’s fourth round tie with Fulham ended all-square.

But Clough, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against Peterborough, insisted their congested fixture schedule could actually enhance, not hamper, United’s effort to drag themselves clear of trouble.

“We should take a great deal of confidence from how we have performed against two very good teams,” he said. “Teams who are in the Premier League and so, no matter who they field, have a huge amount of quality at their disposal.

“That should give us a lot of belief going forward. Which, surely, can only be a good thing as we approach a very important period.”

United prepare to face Darren Ferguson’s side a point and a place from safety but enjoying games in hand on many of their rivals towards the foot of the rankings.

Harry Maguire (knee) and Chris Porter (hamstring) are both nursing injuries with medical staff battling to ensure they are passed fit for a match which, if they win, could see the hosts climb to 16th in the table.

However, new signings John Brayford, Bob Harris and Stefan Scougall, a £400,000 capture from Livingston, should feature after making their debuts during Sunday’s 1-1 draw.

“I thought they settled in exceptionally well and contributed to what was a very good display,” Clough said. “They’ve not been with us very long and, because of that, hardly trained with the rest of the squad going into the (Fulham) fixture but all three of them played their part.

“Hopefully, that process will continue as they get themselves settled in and get to know the team.”