Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, insists his team have nothing to be afraid of as they prepare for Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Charlton Athletic, writes James Shield.
The League One club, which this morning unveiled plans for its 125th year anniversary, will enter the match hoping to record a ninth straight win and sixth consecutive clean sheet after beating Peterborough in midweek.
With that impressive sequence of results catapulting United out of the relegation zone and to within eight points of the play-off positions, Clough said: “There are some big tests ahead but we’ve got nothing to fear. Either in the league or in football.
“Whoever comes in are coming into a confident side and that helps. We’ve got a good spine.
“The goalkeeper (Mark Howard) has been in excellent form, Collo (Neill Collins), Michael Doyle and Conor (Coady) are all doing well. We made lots of changes against Peterborough but it’s brilliant for everybody that the lads who featured all did their jobs and acquitted themselves well.”
“We knew we had five out of the top six coming to our place between now and the end of the season. Peterborough was one of them and so that’s why being able to continue our run was particularly satisfying.
“It also means we can go into our next one (Charlton) not looking over our shoulders and in buoyant mood. In a good, positive frame of mind for what will be another tough match.”
Clough, who was last night nominated alongside Steve Evans, Simon Grayson and Kenny Jackett for February’s divisional manager of the month award, made six changes to his starting eleven for the meeting with Peterborough and admitted performances delivered by the likes of Terry Kennedy, Stephen McGinn and Ben Davies have provided him with “food for thought” ahead of Charlton’s visit. (kick-off noon).
“We’ll do what we always do and pick a team to try and win the game,” Clough said. “But yes, some of those lads have given me plenty to think about.
“Conor and Doyler have put in an unbelievable amount of work lately and that’s what we’re reaping the benefits of. Hard work. Everything can be traced back to that.”
Clough, who is poised for talks with Derby County defender Keiron Freeman, is continuing to monitor Harry Maguire and Jamie Murphy ahead of Athletic’s visit.
Freeman recently completed a loan spell at Notts County and represented Wales against England in their under-21 contest at the iPro Stadium last night.
Aged 21, he started his career at Nottingham Forest before joining County in 2012.
United, meanwhile, have unveiled the replica shirt designed to help commemorate their anniversary celebrations.
The design, which mirrors jerseys worn by the likes of Ernest ‘Nudger’ Needham in the 1890’s, is available to pre-order and will go on sale when a series of events, organised to mark the occasion, begin during the build-up to their fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers on March 22.