Billy Sharp has urged his Sheffield United team mates to think big as they attempt to cause another Championship upset.
But, speaking ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Sunderland, the centre-forward insisted last season’s League One title-winners must learn to win “ugly” or risk undermining their impressive start to the new campaign.
United climbed to fifth in the table when they beat perennial promotion challengers Derby County before the international break and Sharp, who scored twice during that 3-1 triumph, said: “We’ve got to believe we can do something because, if you don’t believe, then you won’t achieve anything. Why can’t we do well in this division? Why can’t we go on to have a successful season? I can’t see any reason whatsoever in my mind.”
If United are to build on that victory over Gary Rowett’s side, they must avoid suffering a third straight away defeat after being beaten by Middlesbrough and Cardiff City. Although last month’s loss on Teesside was controversial - Jack O’Connell having a late equaliser incorrectly disallowed - Sharp admitted United must improve on the road.
“We know, at our place, that we’re capable of turning over anybody,” he admitted. We’ve taken nine points from our three homes games so far and I’m delighted with that. Now, we’ve got to start doing the same thing away. When we have lost, I still think we can take something positive away from them. But, I’m not going to lie, we do want those points.”
With a trip to Bolton Wanderers following this weekend’s match at the Stadium of Light, Sharp added: “We’ve got two away games coming up now and so it’s up to us to start grinding results out away from home. We need to keep that home run going for as long as possible because it does help mentally, I’m not going to lie.
“The gaffer is screaming at us every single day about the importance of turning losses into draws and draws into wins. Away from home, we just need to find that little bit of something extra or change the way we play a bit. We’ve got to be a little bit more professional a perhaps a little bit more ugly. Once we get that first (away) point, we can build on it. I really do believe that we can.”
United, who have allowed 20-year-old centre-forward Jake Wright to join Harrogate Town on loan, could hand debuts to Clayton Donaldson, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Ben Heneghan against Sunderland.
“We’ve got a great spirit here and, I’m not being harsh, I think that’s why we beat Derby,” Sharp said. “They’ve got some brilliant individuals but we knew, if we stuck together, we could cause them real problems.
“That’s exactly what we did. We stuck together. You can’t put a price on having that, being so close, in football. If you’re not a team then you’ll struggle.”