Sheffield United: Mark Duffy reveals the unusual reason why his team mates are equipped for a promotion dog-fight
Mark Duffy has claimed the non and lower league backgrounds of many Sheffield United players will prove a strength rather than a weakness as the battle for a place among English football's elite intensifies.
With only three matches of the Championship season remaining, Chris Wilder's side enters tomorrow's derby against Hull City in second, level on points with third-placed Leeds but above their neighbours on goal difference.
Despite being accused of blowing their top-flight hopes following back to back draws with Birmingham and Millwall, United travel to the KCOM Stadium in the automatic promotion positions after beating Nottingham Forest on Friday lunchtime before Marcelo Bielsa's squad succumbed to Wigan Athletic.
Speaking ahead of the trip to City, Duffy attributed his team mates' fighting spirit to the fact so many of them have clawed their way up from the lower reaches of the game.
"A lot of the team has come from the lower leagues so we've taken set-backs in our careers," the 33-year-old, previously of Vauxhall Motors and Prescot Cables, said. "We've shown resilience and that's we're up for the fight.
"We'll fight until the end. A lot of people outside might have thought we were dead and buried."
Duffy, who helped United lift the League One title only two seasons ago, is among a small army of United players who began their footballing journeys in the semi-professional or amateur ranks. Five members of the starting eleven which beat Forest 2-0 started out at grassroots level.
"I think it's a strength," Duffy, who scored United's first against the visitors from the City Ground, said. "Because we've all had that rejection and had to fight back from that. We wouldn't be where we are today without that.
"A lot of teams in the Championship spend more money. It's been well documented. But it's about heart and desire. When you sprinkle a bit of talent on it, it can make a difference."
Although United's recruitment policy sets them apart from many of their divisional rivals, Wilder insisted after the meeting with Forest that the majority of the national media would prefer to see Leeds go up.
Duffy, who could make his 36th appearance of the season in East Yorkshire, said: "Inside, we said back ourselves, run that extra yard and make that extra tackle. Just go for the win, as we always have done under the gaffer."