DARIUS Henderson, the Sheffield United striker, last night insisted his teammates are still convinced they can complete their impossible mission and avoid relegation to League One.
And having helped keep the South Yorkshire club’s slender hopes of survival alive with a barn-storming performance against Reading on Easter Monday, Henderson warned Barnsley to brace themselves for a torrid reception when they make the short trip to Bramall Lane this weekend.
United, who arrived at the Madejski Stadium on the back of a 3-2 triumph over Bristol City, continued their revival when they beat Brian McDermott’s side by the same scoreline.
That result means they will enter the penultimate match of the Championship season in 22nd place; six points adrift of safety and with a goal-difference inferior to those teams directly above them in the table.
“It will seem to many that it is mission impossible and a long shot,” Henderson, who netted twice against his former employers, said. “However, we have to believe going into the weekend that we can do it.
“We need to attack that game and see where it takes us. Hopefully, though, we can pull it off.
“Everyone who has seen us this season knows we are down at the bottom but that isn’t through lack of effort or belief. We know we haven’t been good enough but we are paid professionals and will continue to work to our maximum and give it our all.
“If it isn’t good enough then we will have to hold our hands up and accept responsibility at the end of the season. But at the moment we have to remain positive and hopefully that mission impossible can come off because we owe it to ourselves and more importantly the fans.”
Henderson added: “We have had a terrible season so far and we’ve been consistently inconsistent. But we must win Saturday. If that gives us a chance (in the final game) at Swansea then great but we must win against Barnsley to try and keep the dream alive.”
Should 21st placed Doncaster Rovers (-23) or Crystal Palace (-22) in 20th both pick-up points against Leicester and Hull respectively then United (-31) will be relegated irrespective of the outcome. Rovers have not won since March 1 but have drawn their last two outings.
Sean O’Driscoll, the Rovers manager, is confident his team possess the qualities required to avoid the drop.
“We’ve looked like a team (over the past two matches) that wants to stay in this division,” he said.