Stephen McGinn has challenged Sheffield United to make a statement of intent by becoming only the third team to beat Leyton Orient away from home this season, writes James Shield.
Today’s meeting with Russell Slade’s side is the second in a trilogy of games which pits United against three of League One’s leading four teams ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final.
And McGinn, an influential figure during Tuesday’s evening’s stalemate with second-placed Brentford, told The Star last night that overcoming Orient in third would underline the progress they have made since Nigel Clough’s appointment as manager.
“We’ve faced some tough opponents of late and they way we have competed shows how far we’ve come,” McGinn, the former Watford midfielder, said. “We also held Preston, who are right up there as well, and didn’t concede a goal there either so the aim now has to be turning those goalless draws, like the one against Brentford, into 1-0 wins.”
“I think we’re a different proposition now,” he added. “Much stronger and that bodes well for the future.
“We’ve come a long way pretty quickly but we want to keep on improving and get even better.”
United entertain Rotherham, a place and a point behind Orient, before their Wembley showpiece with Hull City.
Clough inherited a squad languishing 21st in the table after being unveiled as David Weir’s permanent successor six months ago.
Thirty-three fixtures and 18 victories later, they prepare to host the visitors from Brisbane Road ranked 11th and still enjoying a mathematical chance of reaching the play-offs.
“Whenever we’re at Bramall Lane we always feel confident,” McGinn said. “It doesn’t matter who were are facing, we don’t want to give anything away which is a good attitude to have in the camp.”
“There’s strong competition all over the pitch now,” McGinn added. “So you know that, if you are in the team or trying to get into it, that you’ve got to perform all the way through training or the games to impress the gaffer and that drives everyone on to do well.”