Chris Porter, the Sheffield United centre-forward, is targeting a place in David Weir’s starting eleven when Notts County visit Bramall Lane on Friday.
And the former Motherwell marksman has vowed to repay his manager’s faith by producing a combative display if he is selected to spearhead the League One club’s attack.
Porter said: “I feel confident. I feel good and I feel sharp.
“Hopefully the manager picks me. I’m happy to play wherever I’m asked.
“Now we’ve signed off the pre-season friendlies and we’re looking forward to getting going again.”
With Weir deploying a lone striker throughout a summer schedule which has seen United win five and draw three of their eight outings, new signing Lyle Taylor appears the biggest threat to Porter’s hopes of a prominent role against Chris Kiwomya’s side. The 23-year-old commanded a £250,000 fee when he recently arrived from Falkirk.
County were ranked 12th in the competition last term while their hosts, who finished fifth, were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Yeovil Town.
With the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bristol City now finding themselves in the third tier of English football, Porter is predicting next season’s battle for the Championship could be the fiercest in years.
“County are a strong team and a tough team. We are gearing up for a difficult game but hopefully we’ll get the three points.
“I actually think it’s going to be an even harder division this year because some of the teams that have come down have got massive wage bills.
“But we will still be expected to go up and that’s always going to be the case at a club like this one.”
Weir, who won nearly 70 caps for Scotland, has made several tactical adjustments since taking charge of United seven weeks ago. Perhaps the most notable is the decision to hand Kevin McDonald a more advanced midfield role.
Porter said: “The gaffer wants Kev on the ball a lot more so that he can create things for the team.
“He’s been doing really well at it too. Macca is a very good player.”
Declaring United’s work so far as “probably the most organised pre-season I’ve ever had,” Porter continued: “It’s been really hard but really sensible.
“Time moves on and maybe eight or ten years ago you were coming in and just running and running until you were sick.
“Now things are much more scientific than they were.
“You’ve got to give credit to the staff for doing things the way they have done. It’s been excellent.
“We’ve had some really hard days and then days were it’s all about recovery. That way, no one is playing with a muscle tear or anything like that.
“It also means that when you are working, you are working at 100 per cent.
“Everything has been really thorough.”