Chris Wilder has warned Sheffield United's critics they are playing a "dangerous" game by writing-off his team's promotion chances, despite admitting even some of its own supporters no longer believe the club will be playing Premier League football next term.
United enter Friday's match against Nottingham Forest ranked third in the Championship - three points behind second-placed Leeds with four matches remaining - after being held to a draw by Millwall last weekend.
Although Wilder acknowledged that result means Marcelo Bielsa's squad are now favourites to finish as runners-up behind champions-elect Norwich City, he insisted anyone who claims the top two race is over under-estimates the fighting spirit of his side.
"It's dangerous to write us off as a team and as a staff," Wilder said. "I know there are people out there who think we're done. I'll accept some of our own supporters probably think we're done. But I'm not done and these players aren't done either."
Already missing John Egan through suspension, United today confirmed Billy Sharp and Chris Basham will miss both the visit of Forest and Monday's trip to Hull City with hamstring injuries.
"These boys care, they care as much as any supporter and they care as much as me," Wilder, a former United player and lifelong follower of the club himself, said. "And people know my background here.
"This is a huge weekend for us and, no doubt about it, we've got to win some games. But when I last looked, and that was five minutes ago, there was still only three points between us. The school I went to was pretty decent and my maths are okay. That's one match."
Forest make the short journey north in 11th, despite spending nearly £20m on two players alone last summer.
Wilder, who led United out of League One in 2017, said: "The lads haven't been given their position by fluke. They've earned it. We've earned it."
"Listen, this isn't bottom end of League One football we're talking about here," he added. "This is top end Championship football and it's not easy. These lads are human beings and there's a lot at stake for them.
"We won't dress things up but what we will do, as always, is look to be positive and try and win by going for the jugular."