Sheffield United: 'These guys aren't my team mates, they're my brothers'
Enda Stevens has described Sheffield United's first team squad as a "band of brothers", saying it feels as if he is "going to war" with close friends and comrades before Premier League games.
The defender was speaking ahead of tomorrow's visit to Watford, where Chris Wilder's side will attempt to move back into the top half of the table only six months after being promoted from Championship.
Despite embarking upon a major recruitment drive during the close season, the majority of those expected to start at Vicarage Road played for United in the second tier.
Asked if that has improved team spirit behind the scenes, Stevens said: "The changing room like a band of brothers. It is like you are going into war before the game and you are all together.
"There are going to be disappointments along the season. But we are all together and play for each other and it will stick to us this season."
Stevens, aged 29, has been one of United's stand-out performers this term and is now a permanent fixture in the Republic of Ireland's starting eleven. He moved to Bramall Lane from Portsmouth two years ago, after Wilder had delivered the League One title at the first time of asking.
Although United have adapted remarkably well to life at the highest level - taking eight points from their opening seven games - Watford are bottom after failing to record a league win since April.
Speaking before the trip to Hertfordshire, Wilder warned he expects Quique Sánchez Flores's men to end that run soon.
"It is what you want to play the game for and play at highest level and we earned that right to be in top division in world," Stevens said. "We want to enjoy it, but want to be competitive and I think we are."
"It is hard to say as it's so soon. But we feel like we are ready to step up and make the grade, enjoy the ride," he added. "I think we've shown enough quality in the games to say we are a top team in the top league.
"We always had mentality we had to be at top of game even in the Championship. We always felt we had to be 100 per cent focused and driven and have taken that into Premier League and on our day, we are a match for any team."