Chris Wilder has told his players ‘Our season starts now’ as they prepare for a run of games set to decide whether or not the club has a chance of reaching the Premier League next term.
After mounting a passionate defence of Sheffield United’s first team squad following their defeat by Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wilder drew a line under the result by insisting it is the next “five or six matches”, starting with Saturday’s Yorkshire derby against Leeds, which will shape how the rest of the campaign unfolds.
United face Queens Park Rangers, Hull City and Reading after the visit of Thomas Christiansen’s side and Wilder said: “I’ve got to say I think our season starts now. We’ve got to go and win some games of football, we understand that. We’re playing teams in and around us. We’ve got enough characters in there and we’ve got a great game coming up, a full house at Bramall Lane.
“The supporters have got to really get behind these lads because they need that now because they’re feeling a little bit down after what happened here and the other day. I hope the supporters lift the players and the players lift the fans.”
Wilder, who insisted he has no qualms about selecting 21-year-old goalkeeper Jake Eastwood against Leeds after Simon Moore’s dismissal at Molineux, added: “I’m giving them Monday off to clear their heads and then, when we are back in for training on Tuesday, that’s when our season starts.”
“We’ve got games now, everybody looks at the fixture list and know if we play to our full potential, like we have for the majority of the season, that we can go out there and do it.”
United slipped to eighth in the table after losing 3-0 to Wolves and with Jamal Blackman nursing a groin injury, Wilder confirmed: “I’ll stick Jake in if Jamal isn’t fit. We’ve confidence in him. We know what a great lad he is. I think Jamal is back training this week. Simon is disappointed in there because it’s a poor decision from him and he’s going to pay the price by missing three games.”