THEY might not be the sexiest dates on Bramall Lane’s calendar but, for Danny Philliskirk, liasons with Oldham Athletic are always special affairs.
And the Sheffield United centre-forward hopes his brace during Tuesday’s Professional Development League derby at Hillsborough will be rewarded with a seventh senior appearance when Paul Dickov’s side come calling in 24 hours time.
Philliskirk, who started his career at Boundary Park before being headhunted by Chelsea, has found opportunities in short supply since moving to South Yorkshire 21 months ago.
But, speaking ahead of Athletic’s visit tomorrow, he revealed the blueprint designed to earn a place in Danny Wilson’s plans.
“Obviously there are a lot of great strikers here. That’s my main role but it’s going to be difficult getting past the likes of Dave Kitson, Cressy (Richard Cresswell) and the rest at the moment,” Philliskirk said.
“So I’ve been operating in a few different positions lately, such as out wide on the right and the left, to try and show the manager I can bring something else to the table if that’s what he needs.
“Doing that has given me a greater all-round appreciation of the game too.”
Blessed with acute positional sense and boasting a lengthy spell at Stamford Bridge on his footballing CV, Philliskirk is undoubtedly a player of considerable potential.
Now, having signed a new contract which ties him to United until June 2013, he must translate promise into potent performances at first team level.
Two clinical finishes during a compelling encounter against Sheffield Wednesday in midweek - which ended 3-2 in the hosts’ favour - provided a glimpse of the talent Philliskirk possesses within his 21-year-old limbs.
“I’m really happy at United,” he said. “I love working with the rest of the lads and the staff.
“I always try and do my best in every single match because you never know who is watching.
“The manager here takes a really keen interest in what we do and, if he thinks it is for the best, then there might be someone interested in taking me for a while on loan.”
Chris Morgan, United’s under-21 coach, praised the “character” his squad showed after efforts from Gary Madine (2) and Rodri propelled Wednesday to victory in front of an audience captivated by the industry and invention both sides showed.
“I looked the lads in the face afterwards and said I was proud of them,” Morgan continued. “They gave it absolutely everything and went about their business in exactly the right way.
“Of course we don’t like losing. But they acquitted themselves ever so well.”
Echoing those sentiments, Philliskirk insisted experiencing life with the European Champions has given him the mental strength required to break into Wilson’s team.
“When you are working with some of those names, even playing with them in the reserves, then you have to grow-up fast and show your maturity,” Philliskirk, who captained Chelsea’s youth team, said.
“You really have to focus, work hard and concentrate. That is what I’m doing now.”