Blades make strides: Boss

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MICKY Adams reflected on Sheffield United’s drop into The Championship’s relegation zone and produced a typically defiant response.

“We are not a bottom three side,” said the Blades boss after a seventh league game without a win and a fourth straight defeat saw them slip into the third relegation place.

“Yes, the table says we are but I’m convinced we aren’t and that these players aren’t.

“But we are in it and it’s how we respond now.

“In terms of the effort and the application, I can’t fault the boys. I wish I could. I wish I could go into the dressing room and rip their heads off but I can’t after what they did the other night.

“We’ve got to pick ourselves up and if we have any less application than we’ve shown tonight then we’ll get beat wherever we go. But I think we’re making strides.”

Adams said he felt the defeat to Leicester was “one of those nights”.

“It was a sloppy goal conceded and I thought we were the better team but for some good goalkeeping, a bit of good fortune and we definitely should have had a penalty when Sol Bamba handled it in the second half.

His Leicester counterpart Sven Goran Eriksson felt it was the most difficult game his side had faced since he was appointed in October.

“It was difficult, very difficult, yes,” said the former England manager. “They are very aggressive, strong, very direct, and put a lot of tests on our back line and goalkeeper.

“So I’m extremely happy with three points here because we were lucky a couple of times and our goalkeeper made excellent saves.”

With defender Joe Mattock set for a scan after being carried off with a knee and ankle injury and Kyle Bartley having left to join Rangers on loan, new defender Neil Collins - ineligible for Tuesday’s game as his signing was completed after the noon deadline on Monday - is set for his debut in Saturday’s game at Ipswich who are five places and seven points ahead of United.

In fact, it sparks a four game away run against clubs around, or in touching distance of, the Blades - games which will have a really vital say in their relegation fortunes.

The follow up away games on Feb 19 and 22 are the two teams above and below them, Crystal Palace and Scunthorpre. The away trip after that is to Portsmouth who are currently two places and four points in front.

Adams has revealed that Bartley asked to be released from his season-long loan so he could join Rangers.

With the prospect of Collins coming in and being a first choice central defender, Bartley felt his first team chances may be hindered.

“I’m not going to stand in the way of anyone who wants to leave,” said Adams.