MICKY Adams, the Sheffield United manager, has acknowledged his team are about to embark upon a run of games with the power to influence their battle for Championship survival.
Tomorrow's visit of Norwich City sees the South Yorkshire club play the first of four matches at home in a little over three weeks as Leicester, Millwall and Reading also prepare to make the journey to Bramall Lane.
"You always want to do well on your own patch," Adams acknowledged. "It's just our luck that we're playing two of the biggest spenders in the competition during that spell.
"But, being serious, of course it's important that we take as much as we possibly can during this period."
United's poor form in front of their own supporters has contributed to their disappointing showing in the table with QPR, Scunthorpe, Watford, Coventry, Ipswich and Hull all returning home with maximum points to show for their efforts.
Adams made improving that record one of his top priorities after replacing Gary Speed at the helm last month and, despite still searching for his first win in charge, the 49-year-old has gone some way towards achieving that ambition by making United much more difficult to beat.
Having lost their opening fixture under Adams' tutelage - 4-2 at Burnley - United responded by holding Doncaster Rovers and Coventry to draws, with the latter opponents in particular frustrated by some tenacious, whole-hearted defending. Paul Lambert's side, who are 17 places higher than Adams' men in fourth, are likely to prove an even greater test of that resolve.
"Paul has a system that suits the players he has at his disposal," Adams said. "There's no point in asking players to do things they aren't able to.
"They've also invested quite a lot so it's no great surprise to see them where they are. It's no fluke."
Norwich's 4-2 victory at Carrow Road 24 days ago wrecked caretaker John Carver's hopes of succeeding Speed on a permanent basis.
United's hierarchy also paid a high price with a skirmish moments before the final whistle, which ended with Stephen Quinn being dismissed, earning them an Football Association fine.
"Both clubs were punished and its history," Adams said.
Adams last night confirmed that new signing Marcus Bent "will be in our 18" while fellow loanee Kyle Bartley should start despite missing training with a virus. Shane Lowry is receiving treatment for a groin problem.
"It's only slight and we'll assess him nearer the match itself before deciding," said Adams.
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