Sheffield United: ‘The club comes first, not individual egos’
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has vowed the put the club's promotion ambitions before the egos of individual players as his team braces itself for this weekend's Championship showdown with West Bromwich Albion.
United are preparing for Saturday's contest second in the table, two places and a point above Darren Moore's side, knowing victory could see them replace Norwich City at the top of the rankings.
Wilder, who hopes to have a full strength squad at his disposal after Chris Basham completed a two match suspension, has made a series of changes to his starting eleven weeks and, despite acknowledging United's approach will not change between now and the end of the campaign, said: "I know people want to play every week but our job, my job, is to pick the team we believe gives us the best chance of winning. That's what always comes first.
"If we believe someone can come in and do a job, then we'll put them in. It's about what's best for the group as a whole, and people have just got to get along with that and, to be fair, they do.”
Wilder provided an insight into his mindset following Saturday's 4-0 win over Reading when he confirmed neither Billy Sharp nor David McGoldrick had received prior warning of his decision to name both of them on the bench. Although at least one is likely to start at The Hawthorns, Wilder is unlikely to confirm his eleven until a day before the fixture, when it is privately relayed to the squad.
Conor Washington, who was injured during Tuesday night's Professional Development League defeat by Sheffield Wednesday under-23's, is undergoing treatment at the Steelphalt Academy after being examined by medical staff.
With West Brom moving to within touching distance of United following their triumph over Queens Park Rangers - Jake Livermore scoring the decisive goal deep into added time - Wilder now has even more reason to be thankful for his charges' ruthless display against Reading. The margin of victory means they now boast a goal difference of plus-24, only one less than their latest opponents who, by this measure, boast the best figures in the division. City are on plus-23 and third-placed Leeds, plus-17.
"We were a touch disappointed because we could have extended it," Wilder said, reflecting upon the meeting with Reading. "The goal difference has been boosted, maybe it could have been by more, but I won't be greedy."
Those comments reveal Wilder expects both the battle for a top two finish and play-off qualification to go right down to the wire. Following West Brom's trip to Loftus Road, only three points separate the division's leading four teams while Derby
County, in seventh, trail United by 10. "Our only focus is on ourselves," Wilder said. "Trying to take care of our own business, that's what matters. Anything else is just a distraction."