DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, has told his players their mistakes will be forgiven providing they sweat blood for the cause.
Wilson, whose team are without a win in League One competition since Boxing Day, issued the pledge after claiming recent results have prompted some critics to draw false conclusions about Bramall Lane’s first-team squad.
Using striker Dave Kitson’s performance during last week’s defeat by Coventry City to illustrate his point, the former Northern Ireland international said: “Kits was absolutely superb during the second half of that game. He scored an equaliser and really took things by the scruff of the neck. It was the performance of someone who showed they are willing to lead by example and from the front.
“That’s why, when his slip led to their goal, nobody got on his back. Everyone could see what he was putting in and so there was no blame attached at all.
“The supporters could see what Kits was doing out there and they appreciated it. They got right behind him because of it and that was great to see.
“It goes to show that, so long as you are giving everything you’ve got, nobody is going to punish you if something goes wrong.
“So long as you are giving everything, that’s all anyone can ask.”
Wilson, speaking before yesterday’s visit of Crawley Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, absolved Kitson of any responsibility for a loss which saw United fail to close the gap between themselves and the automatic promotion places.
Despite conceding that “slow starts” have contributed to his team’s disappointing returns of late, Wilson insisted: “There really isn’t a lot wrong.
“We’ve not had the greatest of luck in terms of injuries lately. And, against Coventry, when that ball (from Kitson) bobbled it could have gone anywhere.
“But, the way it’s been going for us at the moment, it fell straight to one of their players. On another day, it would have gone to safety.
“What we’ve got to do is stick together, keep working hard and keep plugging away because if you do that then you get your rewards. And that’s what the lads here will do because they’re committed to what they’re doing and they’re damn good pros.”
“Nevertheless, there are also areas where we know we can improve and do much better than we have lately,” Wilson added. “But we aren’t far off.
“The important thing is that we all stick together, work hard, believe in ourselves and what we are doing.
“These lads know what they can do because they’ve done it before and that’s why I know they can do it again.
“So we’ll keep cool heads and stay focused on doing the right things.”
United, who travel to Shrewsbury Town in three days, could see their push for a top-two finish complicated by a punishing fixture schedule which will become even more congested should more matches fall victim to the weather.
However, with defender Matt Hill (jaw) hoping to be declared available for selection at Greenhous Meadow, Wilson’s starting 11 could soon resemble the one which surged to the summit of the table in December.
“Hopefully he could be involved in some capacity at the weekend,” Wilson said. “He’s a very good player and also a very experienced one too.
Goalkeeper Mark Howard (muscle) suffered a setback in his fight against injury during a recent outing at Professional Development League level while full-back Lecsinel Jean-Francois (knee) has yet to resume full training.
A thigh scan has ruled out Howard for up to a month.