Nigel Clough has ordered his players to show no mercy when they have opponents on the rack, writes James Shield.
The Sheffield United manager, speaking ahead of today’s League One encounter against Crawley Town, made the admission as they attempt to record back to back wins in the competition for the first time since March following Tuesday’s victory over Peterborough.
“We want to back that result up with another positive outcome and we want more consistency,” Clough said. “We’ve been doing it for periods in games and, although you’ll never dominate for an entire 90, you can do it for more than 30 or 35.
“That’s boils down to a mental aspect, about having a certain state of mind. It’s something we’ve talked about this week.”
Clough, who revealed that no player currently on the periphery of his squad has asked to leave Bramall Lane, indicated his desire for United to become more ruthless will be reflected by his team selection this afternoon.
“We’ll probably continue with two up top,” Clough, who could recall Michael Higdon after pairing Marc McNulty with Jose Baxter in midweek, said. “We’re getting closer to getting settled.
“Mark, the goalkeeper, has done well and Craig Alcock prefers full-back to centre-half so we’ll look to keep him there while Ben Davies is suited to being slightly more advanced.
“We saw the problems during the first half of our game against Bristol City to type of problems we can create so long as everyone is functioning and Jamie (Murphy) has shown signs of getting back to where he was.”
United, beaten by Steve Cotterill’s team and Coventry City either side of a Capital One Cup success over Mansfield Town, expect to be without Stefan Scougall (knee) for the meeting with Crawley while fellow midfielder James Wallace is still recovering from a groin problem.
Clough, predicting the visitors will present a “more physical challenge” than last term, must also decide whether to recall Chris Porter and Stephen McGinn who were both omitted from the squad at London Road while Andy Butler, previously of Walsall, hopes to make his first league appearance of the new campaign.
“We’re not forcing anybody out,” Clough said. “If somebody comes to us and says they fancy getting some games for a month then it’s something we’d consider but no one has said or asked for that.
“It’s still very early in the season and most of them have had some football of sorts when you take into account the cup.”