Sheffield United: Boss makes a chilling prediction about the race for promotion from the Championship

Sheffield United have been warned the battle for Championship play-off qualification will be a test of nerve as well as skill, with Paul Heckingbottom predicting it could go right down to the wire.

United are preparing for tomorrow’s visit to Millwall sixth in the table following their victory over Blackburn Rovers earlier this week; a result achieved despite Charlie Goode’s second-half red card.

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Although his side are now unbeaten in nine outings and have kept five consecutive clean sheets, Heckingbottom predicted: “We are even talking about that, sixth place, at the moment. We’re not talking about it because it’s going to change so many times.

“If you look at the games everyone has got coming up, and we’re facing a lot of the teams around us, then it’s going to chop and change. There’s no doubt about that.

“All we can do is stay focused and, although it sounds boring I know, just look at the next match we’ve got coming up - try and take care of that.

“It’s going to change around, you would think, and we just have to try and make sure we’re in with a shout when it comes to the final day. Because that’s what it might all come down to.

“It’s going to switch and we’re going to have to switch as well.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Heckingbottom was referring to United’s ever-growing casualty list which, after Jayden Bogle, David McGoldrick and Rhian Brewster were all required to undergo surgery in recent weeks, now includes Chris Basham’s name as well. The defender, whose contract is scheduled to expire at the end of the season, is expected to undergo another set of scans on his damaged knee ligaments shortly amid fears he could also be ruled out for the rest of the campaign.

With his fellow centre-half Goode now suspended, Heckingbottom will be hoping Ben Davies remains available for selection after stepping off the bench to score an added time winner against Rovers.

“I know what the lads are capable of,” Heckingbottom said. “They are fighting and scrapping and they are always delighted for each other when things go well, which gives you an idea of what they’re like.

Sheffield, England, 23rd February 2022. Ben Davies celebrates scoring the winning goal for Sheffield United against Blackburn Rovers: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“We don’t have long to prepare for the next one now. So that’s all our attention is on.”

Gary Rowett, the manager of Millwall: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images