Sheffield United skipper says the Bramall Lane fans are still his inspiration as Premier League restarts behind closed doors
Sheffield United supporters have been told they will still be at the forefront of the players’ minds when Chris Wilder’s team resumes its push for European football at Aston Villa this evening, even though the match is taking place behind closed doors.
Three months after competition was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic, United’s trip to the West Midlands is the first match being staged in this country since the health crisis escalated in March.
Although social distancing measures introduced by the Government mean spectators are still banned from stadia, Sharp told The Star United’s fans remain an inspiration for a squad which enters the game only five points outside the Champions League qualification positions with 10 fixtures left to play.
Acknowledging the contest is set to attract a huge television audience because of its significance in both a sporting and historical sense, the 34-year-old said: “We’re going out there to perform for the supporters, who have been magnificent, each other, the club, our families and our friends.
“We are trying to achieve something special and we need to hit the ground running.
“There’s going to be more people watching than usual, even though we won’t be able to see or hear them. But that won’t affect us, because we know that our fans are still with us.”
“It’s been mentally tough for everyone in the world,” Sharp continued. “We’ve tried to keep a smile on our faces and we want to put a smile on other people’s faces too.
“It’s been a really strange time and I said to everyone here at the start of all of this - ‘Make sure you’re smiling and keep people in and around you happy.’
“The club has been brilliant and the lads have applied themselves well. We’ve come back in a great position and now we just want to get started.”
Beating Villa, who are 19th, would see United climb to within touching distance of fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of Sunday’s visit to Newcastle.
Sharp, who had scored three times in four outings when the season was mothballed, said: “I want to get back on the scoresheet as quickly as possible to help us win games.
“We want to go out there, fight for each other and get as many points as we can.
“I feel it’s in our hands. It’s up to us to perform and get results. The games are going to come thick and fast so we’re going to need the whole squad, we’re going to need lads coming in and out of the team and pushing in the same direction, which is what everyone here does.”
“It’s sad our supporters aren’t going to be there with us,” Sharp added. “But all of my mates have got their beers in the fridge ready and we know the whole of the red side of Sheffield are excited to seeing us back out there. We’re the same, we’re raring to go and can’t wait for it.”