IT is one of the most well-worn cliches in football but Sheffield United’s Kevin McDonald has told supporters they really can become the team’s twelfth man along League One’s finishing straight.
McDonald, who marked his return from injury by helping Danny Wilson’s side beat Notts County earlier this week, made the claim after learning over three thousand visiting fans had watched the drama unfold at Meadow Lane.
With only two points separating second placed United from the chasing pack, McDonald said: “When the supporters stick with us it’s a real help. They really can make all the difference.
“They’ve been brilliant this season and I’ve not heard any booing or stuff like that.
“It really does encourage you when you get that type of backing and hopefully what we did (at County) will encourage them.”
United play the first of their remaining eight games when Johnstone’s Paint Trophy finalists Chesterfield travel to Bramall Lane on Wednesday evening.
McDonald told The Star: “To get the numbers following us that we did at County was fantastic. There really is no other word to describe it.
“Not many clubs in this division bring that amount with them away from home. And, without being disrespectful, there are probably a lot of clubs in football who would like to get that at home never mind on the road.”
Although United are far from a one man band – five members of Wilson’s squad, including Stephen Quinn, Richard Cresswell and leading goalscorer Ched Evans, boast more assists – McDonald makes a tangible difference to the way they go about their business.
Results during his absence highlighted that influence. Having averaged 2.14 points per game in the seven matches before he hobbled-out of last month’s victory over Preston North End, they returned only 1.14 while McDonald was confined to the treatment room.
The former Scotland under-21 international’s performance against County was as bright as the underpants he admitted to wearing during an interview with United’s official matchday magazine earlier this term. But McDonald revealed he endured a grey, spartan existence before being declared available for selection against Keith Curle’s men.
“All I did was training and physio, training and physio. It’s horrible being injured. You can’t enjoy it at all but it’s part and parcel of football so you just have to deal with it.”
McDonald was yesterday joined by his compatriot Michael O’Halloran at Bramall Lane after the Bolton Wanderers youngster signed for United on loan until the end of the season.
O’Halloran, aged 21, can operate along the flanks and appeared for Owen Coyle’s side as a substitute during their FA Cup and Carling Cup ties against Macclesfield Town earlier this season.
A graduate of Wanderers’ academy, O’Halloran was described as “supremely talented” by Coyle when he penned a new contract at the Reebok Stadium last month.
“To secure the futures of these three, who are supremely talented and have tremendous potential, is very pleasing,” Coyle, who also offered fresh deals to Joe Riley and Josh Vela, said.