CHARLTON Athletic have been warned not to get dragged in to a war of attrition at Bramall Lane tomorrow.
The League One leaders travel north intent on becoming only the third team to beat Sheffield United in the competition this season.
Danny Wilson, the United manager, predicted earlier this week that the South Yorkshire club’s supporters will turn-out in force ahead of their team’s biggest home game of the season so far.
But Chris Powell, his counterpart at The Valley, is confident the visitors can divorce themselves from the febrile atmosphere inside the stadium and concentrate on playing to their own strengths.
Reflecting on Tuesday’s draw at MK Dons, Powell said: “The boys weren’t happy with their first half performance there,” he said. “But they showed how much they cared during the interval and that was good to see.
“I just told them to stay calm and to concentrate on focus on what they had to do.
“Which is exactly what they did.”
Powell, a former England international, endured a difficult start to his career in the dug-out.
Charlton, where he still enjoys cult-hero status following three spells as a player, were seventh in the table when, less than 24 hours after being appointed, he watched them eke out a creditable draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in January earlier this year.
However a miserable March, which saw Charlton lose five and draw three of their eight fixtures, contributed to a disappointing 13th placed finish.
Unlucky for some but not Phil Parkinson’s successor, Powell’s charges remain unbeaten following Yann Kermorgant’s equaliser at stadium:mk in midweek. Bradley Wright-Phillips, his first signing, has scored six times so far this term.
“They’ve been in this division for a bit now and they’ve brought in a lot of players,” Wilson acknowledged yesterday. “They’ve obviously decided this is the season that they’re going to give it a real go so fair play to them.”
Powell, who worked under Paulo Sousa and Sven Goran Eriksson at Leicester City, has used the experience he acquired during a turbulent period in the Midlands to help accelerate the settling in process.
“I’m a young coach and I want to progress,” he said before leaving the Walkers Stadium. “I’ve been a part of this sort of thing as a player and it’s all part of my development.”
Charlton arrive in Sheffield tonight two points ahead of second-placed Charlton and four in front of United in third.
Phil Brown’s side, who host United next weekend, are the only team to beat Powell’s charges this season after winning their Carling Cup tie in the capital earlier this month.
“Charlton are a good team, who play good football and who are also nice and solid at the back,” Wilson said. “Pretty much everything you’d expect from a team that’s top of the table.
“But we are in good form ourselves as well. It should be a cracking game between two teams who are well-equipped to create chances.”
Wilson, reflecting on Saturday’s shock defeat at Wycombe, added: “Anyone who watched that game will know we played well but we didn’t turn pressure into goals which we need to do here.”