Neill Collins admits Sheffield United supporters have every right to demand promotion this season.
The defender made the claim after Nigel Clough’s side stretched their unbeaten League One run to four games courtesy of Saturday’s victory over Rochdale.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s late winner lifted United to ninth in the table and Collins told The Star: “With this club and these fans, the aim has got to be automatic promotion. Their patience has been amazing and they are the most loyal I’ve ever played in front of in that regard. It won’t be easy and I think they understand that. There can never be any guarantees.
“But it would be lovely to pay them back for the backing they’ve given us. It would be brilliant, it really would.”
Collins has appeared in two ill-fated play-off campaigns for United and is adamant they can drag themselves out of the third tier at the fourth attempt.
“For me, people have got to recognise that you have to be right up there quickly in this division,” Collins added.
““You don’t necessarily have to be in the top two but you’ve got to be around the top six as soon as possible. If we can do that then we’ll be viewed as a real threat.”
“With the number of new players we’ve brought in lately, automatic (promotion) has got to be the aim.
“Yes, we’ve lost a lot of good players from last season but the ones we’ve brought in are all good ones too.”
Clough, who has bolstered his squad with 11 new signings since the end of last term, insisted United should enter tomorrow’s fixture at Colchester in “good confidence” after overcoming Rochdale. But winger Jamie Murphy is a doubt for the trip to Essex after sustaining a dead leg against the visitors from Spotland.
“I said to the lads in the dressing room afterwards that, in a lot of ways, that was one of the toughest tests they’ll have here this season,” Clough revealed. “They (Rochdale) upped their game and we had to get over that with character, spirit and also some good play.”
“You can see the patterns emerging now of how we want to play,” Clough continued. “Getting the ball out wide and getting crosses into the box. We’ve got some very dangerous wide players in our squad and so it’s important we use them.”
Clough, meanwhile, has brushed-off claims from his Hull City counterpart Steve Bruce that there is “no chance” of Harry Maguire returning to Bramall Lane on loan. Maguire completed a £2.5m transfer to the KC Stadium two months ago but has yet to make a Premier League appearance.
“Steve knows the situation,” Clough said. “He knows we’d take Harry back if he was available.”