Sheffield United are told what they must do to impress in the Premier League next season

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder insists it is vital his team makes a strong start to the new Premier League campaign, warning the disruption the Covid-19 pandemic has caused to their pre-season preparations can not be used as an excuse if results prove difficult to come by.

Friday, 4th September 2020, 7:00 am

Speaking ahead of United’s final friendly of the summer - against Preston North End at Bramall Lane this afternoon - Wilder attributed the club’s success last term to its performances immediately after being promoted.

United, who finished ninth in the table despite being tipped for relegation, have been confronted by a number of challenges since reporting back for training - from seeing their opening warm-up fixture against Dundee United abandoned because of bad weather to being forced to delay moves for a series of key transfer targets due to the revised international calendar.

Despite acknowledging the situation is far from perfect, Wilder told his players it remains imperative they hit the ground running when Wolverhampton Wanderers visit South Yorkshire a week on Monday.

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder wants a fast start from his team: SHAUN BOTTERILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“There’s points at stake right the way through,” Wilder said. “We’re desperate to get off to a good start. It’s a different situation, yes, but one of the reasons the boys did so well last time out was because of what they did right at the beginning. That gave them the confidence and the platform to go on and build.”

“I’m not going to make big and bold predictions about where we are compared to other teams,” he added. “Everyone is in the same boat and, to be honest, I’m not really bothered about what is going on elsewhere in the division.

“What I am bothered about, though, is us. Dealing with the things we can deal with. We want to have a good start and then carry on from there.”

Despite the disappointment of seeing Matty Cash, one of the names at the top of his wanted list, join Aston Villa from Nottingham Forest yesterday, Wilder is hopeful United can complete at least two new signings before the meeting with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side. Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster and Oliver Burke of West Bromwich Albion are both expected to explore the possibility of joining United when they return from duty with England under-21’s and Scotland respectively, while Reading’s John Swift also counts Wilder among his list of admirers. Yakou Meite, Swift’s team mate at the Madejski Stadium, is another player being linked with United, who have allowed young defender Rhys Norrington Davies to join Luton Town on a season long loan.

“He’s athletic,, he’s committed and has a great desire to do well,” Nathan Jones, Wilder’s counterpart at Kenilworth Road, said. “That’s what we want - players who are hungry to prove themselves at this level."

"Rhys is someone with great pedigree and I've watched him a lot," Jones added. "So when he became available, we really wanted to get him, and I'm delighted that we've been able to do that."