No fear of Fulham as Sheffield United target perfect finish to seal play-off place

Paul Heckingbottom insists Sheffield United will look to return maximum points from their three remaining games of the regular Championship campaign, to secure their spot in the end-of-season play-offs.

Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 2:23 pm

The Blades are sixth with three matches remaining, but know they can’t afford too many slip-ups with Millwall a point and a place behind them.

Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and QPR, who are still to face United at Loftus Road, also have their own ambitions of wrestling a top-six place from United, who face Cardiff City this weekend before rounding off their regular season at home to already-promoted Fulham.

Speaking after Monday’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City, which saw his side come out of the Easter weekend with a single point after losing at home to struggling Reading on Good Friday, boss Heckingbottom said of the remaining three games: “We’re going to try and get nine. We just want to win.

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“We’ve gained a point [at Bristol] but in my opinion we’ve dropped two because we were dominant. But it’s going to go to the end, and what we do before the Fulham game will set it up.

“It’s much more sensible speaking about attacking the games. So that’s been our mentality since I took over, and that won’t change.”

If, as Heckingbottom predicts, the play-off race does go to the final day of the season, then they don’t come much tougher than facing the runaway leaders and champions-elect Fulham.

Paul Heckingbottom, manager of Sheffield United (photo by George Wood/Getty Images).

United will take some heart from having beaten Marco Silva’s side at Craven Cottage before Christmas, while Aleksandar Mitrović and Co. will hopefully have one eye on their shortened summer holidays by the time they travel to Bramall Lane on May 7.

Fulham are nine points clear of second-placed Bournemouth in the race for the Championship title and can ‘only’ win 98 points this season, so the added motivation of breaking the 100 barrier will not be there on the final day.

Mitrović, too, has already set the record for the most number of goals in a Championship season and has reached 40 – although, in the form he has been in this season, he may have his sights set on pushing 50 by the time he and his teammates travel to Bramall Lane.