FRESH from keeping his first clean sheet in two months, Steve Simonsen is upbeat about Sheffield United’s chances of pulling off the great escape.
The odds are stacked against United beating the drop. With eight matches left, Micky Adams’ troops remain four points away from safety.
But, following back-to-back home victories over Nottingham Forest and Leeds United before the two-week international break, Simonsen reckons the club may have turned the corner in their fight for survival.
“The wins over Forest and Leeds have given everybody confidence,” he told The Star. “I think some people were losing belief and confidence before those games because we have not produced results and things were going against us.
“But it is amazing what a couple of wins can do for a team in our position. It has really lifted everybody around the place so maybe we have turned the tide.
“People are going to be brave again and want the ball more. We hope this run has come at the right time and we can sustain it.”
Three of United’s six wins at Bramall Lane this season have come against promotion contenders; Swansea, Forest and Leeds.
“I don’t know why that is,” conceded Simonsen. “Maybe we raise our games against the top teams.
“We have not done well when we have faced teams in around the bottom of the league. If we had done better, we would not be in the position we are in.”
United face daunting trip to runaway leaders Queens Park Rangers on Monday night looking to end a run of five successive away defeats.
In fact, the South Yorkshire club have picked up just one point on the road since the turn of the year and have not won on their travels since mid-November.
The statistics make grim reading for United, with QPR, managed by Neil Warnock, having lost just once in 19 matches on home soil.
Nonetheless, Simonsen is relishing United’s capital test and believes they can cause an upset in the Sky-televised clash.
He said: “We know we will be the underdogs and that no-one will fancy us.
“The pressure is all on QPR. They are expected to win easily and we are expected to come away with nothing.
“They have done well at home but records are there to be broken. We need to go out there, play our game and look to cause them problems.”
Simonsen thinks QPR have surpassed all expectations this term, admitting: “I thought they would be there or thereabouts but I am surprised that they are running away with the league so easily.”
The experienced goalkeeper has also singled out Championship Player of the Year Adel Taarabt as QPR’S main dangerman.
“He is the biggest threat they have got,” said Simonsen. “He is a strange one though because you never know which Taarabt will turn up from one game to the next.”