SHEFFIELD United boss Danny Wilson is not concerned by his lack of striking options as his side begin their League One play-off bid with a semi-final first leg at Stevenage tonight.
The Blades looked set to claim the second automatic spot ahead of city rivals Sheffield Wednesday until a late-season stutter saw them register just two points from their final three games, allowing the Owls to pip them to the post.
At one point Wilson’s side were five points above Wednesday with two games in hand and had an embarrassment of riches in the attacking department to call on.
But fast-forward a few weeks and the Blades travel to Broadhall Way with top scorer Ched Evans out of the picture, crocked loanee Will Hoskins back at Brighton and James Beattie suspended.
That leaves them with Richard Cresswell, who is suffering with a shoulder injury, Chris Porter, who has failed to score in the league this year and on-loan Bolton forward Michael O’Halloran, who has yet to score a senior goal.
But Wilson has put his faith in his squad.
“I think we’ve been quite unlucky,” he said. “But you don’t feel sorry for yourself because that’s the route to failure.
“We’ve still got very good players at the club. Some players have not had as many opportunities as they would like, but what a great opportunity now.
“I don’t see any reason why you can state the fact that we haven’t got enough strikers who can hit the back of the net.
“We’ve seen at the beginning of the season and at the end when certain strikers weren’t available we can still score goals.
“You don’t know who is going to be the hero on the day, so let’s hope it’s someone on our team.”
Stevenage, who finished 17 points behind United in the league, are bidding to maintain their meteoric rise up the football pyramid with a third successive promotion, having hauled themselves from the Blue Square Bet Premier Division into npower League One in three seasons.
Manager Gary Smith, drafted in after previous boss Graham Westley departed for Preston in January, has played down the Blades’ disappointment at missing out on automatic promotion.
But the 43-year-old, who guided former club Colorado Rapids to the MLS Championship Cup in 2010 and the play-offs in 2011, expects his side to come out on top in the first leg.
“They won’t relish the opportunity coming down here to play against us,” Smith said.
“It’ll be a tough night, the crowd will get behind us, we’ve got plenty of momentum and we’re in good form. We’ll be looking to come away from this leg with an advantage to take back to Bramall Lane.”
Stevenage drew 2-2 with United at Bramall Lane last month and beat the Blades 2-1 in the league at home in November.
“We’ll give them plenty of respect, they deserve it,” Smith added. “They’ve had a wonderful season and I think that in most seasons gone by 90 points would have got them automatic promotion.
“But now they find themselves in a play-off situation.”