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Sheffield United: Manager Chris Wilder issues a top six challenge

Sheffield United created some great opportunities against Nottingham Forest but failed to take one: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Sheffield United created some great opportunities against Nottingham Forest but failed to take one: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder has admitted Sheffield United must become even more clinical in front of goal or risk undermining their attempt to qualify for the Championship play-offs.

Wilder, the United manager, made the confession after bemoaning the number of opportunities which have gone to waste during his team’s recent games against Ipswich Town and Nottingham Forest.

Chris Wilder says his team have a great chance of qualifying for the play-offs: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder says his team have a great chance of qualifying for the play-offs: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Despite boasting one of the best conversion rates in the competition, Wilder said: “We’ve got to show more quality in there. We can’t miss chances. Quality is huge in the Championship.

“The first goal is huge at this level, especially at home, where we do really, really well when we get that.

“We’ve got lots to play for and we’ll always go for it. But we don’t want to be having to stretch the game so much that we open ourselves up. If we take more (chances) then we won’t find ourselves in that position.”

With a win over Burton Albion sandwiched in between their stalemates with Town and Forest, United entered the international break two points behind sixth-placed Middlesbrough but ninth in the table.

Wilder used their defeat at Fulham earlier this month to hammer home his message, claiming Slaviša Jokanović’s side had only seized control of the contest after two golden chances had been missed.

“How many times have we got into those positions over the past 12 months? In a heartbeat, after creating the best chance of the game, we were behind from a great pass and a great finish,” he said. “That’s a situation we don’t want to find ourselves in again.”

“We want to keep driving ourselves forward,” Wilder added. “To do that, we’ve got to identify those areas where we can get better and also keep working on our strengths. You can’t stand still. We want to keep on pushing, keep on winning games and then see where it takes us.”

United return to action when they visit Brentford on Good Friday before hosting Cardiff City, managed by Wilder’s predecessor Neil Warnock, on April 2. After travelling to Barnsley five days later, they face Middlesbrough, Millwall, Birmingham City and Preston North End before meeting Bristol City on the final day of the regular season. City, together with Millwall and North End, are also hoping to overhaul sixth-placed Middlesbrough.

“We’ve got everything to go for and so have a lot of other teams we’ll be coming up against,” Wilder said. “I’m talking about both ends of the table.

“So the matches are going to be even more hard-fought than usual and the little things are going to make a big, big difference. That’s why, when we have an opening, it’s important we make the most of it.

“If we do that, then our record is good. It changes the whole complexion of the game. We can play how we like to play.”