Sheffield United: Skipper explains why Chris Wilder’s team are a force to be reckoned with as four of his team mates prepare for “psychological warfare”
Billy Sharp has praised his team mates for putting Sheffield United before themselves, citing the lack of egos within Chris Wilder's squad as the driving force behind its climb to second in the Championship table.
With eight matches of the season remaining, United are preparing for next weekend's game against Bristol City a point above third-placed Leeds and only four behind leaders Norwich City.
Although their attacking brand of football has won an army of admirers this term - Marcelo Bielsa, Wilder's opposite number at Elland Road, described them as "unique" before the two clubs met sis days ago - Sharp said: "I love being captain but I love more being part of a Sheffield United team winning games.
"It is great to play for this club and the lads, every single one of them, have been fantastic. We must stick together and give ourselves the opportunity to be a successful team."
"We're ready to help each other out and work hard for one another," he added. "We're a tight group and that's what it's all about."
United, who travelled to Spain for warm weather training after beating Leeds 1-0, face an anxious wait ahead of the meeting with Lee Johnson's side after eight of Wilder's players were selected for international duty.
Four of those - David McGoldrick, Enda Stevens, Scott Hogan and John Egan - could be in action when the Republic of Ireland face Gibraltar tomorrow while John Fleck will hope to make his debut for Scotland against San Marino on Sunday. Northern Ireland, including United striker Conor Washington, face Belarus later that evening.
With the Victoria Stadium boasting an artificial playing surface, concerns have been expressed that the Republic's players could prove vulnerable to injury when they meet Julio Ribas' men.
But manager Mick McCarthy last night dismissed concerns that McGoldrick and his colleagues from Bramall Lane run the risk of being hurt, insisting: "Nobody will ever tell me that it's the same as regular grass because it's not.They know it's a different surface and they will try to use it. It's almost like psychological warfare that one, with the plastic pitch."
"But we've just got to go and play on it," he added. "That's what it is and we will get on with it. We have to make the best of it. I was out there on it and it's just a different bounce, the ball rolls differently."