Sheffield United warned thatg change of approach could impact upon Premier League hopes

The standards Sheffield United set during their final two games of the season, before next term’s return to the Premier League, will bleed into their performances at the beginning of the new top-flight campaign Paul Heckingbottom’s squad have been told.
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Despite entering the game having already sealed promotion from the Championship, Heckingbottom was delighted with how his players parked their celebrations to beat Preston North End last weekend.

That result means they are still on course to set a new club points record for a second tier campaign, as the attention turns towards Thursday’s visit to a Huddersfield Town side fighting for survival under Heckingbottom’s legendary predecessor Neil Warnock.

Manager Paul Heckingbottom is doubling down on his Sheffield United squad: Alex Livesey/Getty ImagesManager Paul Heckingbottom is doubling down on his Sheffield United squad: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Manager Paul Heckingbottom is doubling down on his Sheffield United squad: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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“It has to become what you are about, trying to win football matches,” the 45-year-old said. “It has to be in your DNA and you can’t switch that on and off or do it when you choose. You have to be on it, switched on, all the time. We’ve got a few players here who have been involved in promotion and the younger lads, they learn from the examples they set. They are the ones who set the tone and, genuinely, I think players in that regard are always the best coaches. Senior players that is, because they are the ones who really set the standards.”

United, who guaranteed they could finish no lower than second after dispatching West Bromwich Albion 72 hours before the meeting with Preston, travel to West Yorkshire searching for their 32nd victory in all competitions since August. Huddersfield, who at one stage looked dead and buried before Warnock’s appointment, are now on the brink of safety having edged past another of his former clubs - Cardiff City - on Sunday.

“It’s important that you celebrate every success,” Heckingbottom said. “The 26th in the league was the biggest one, as you’d expect. But we celebrate every win because we know what you have to put in.”

Sheffield United have been promoted from the Championship: George Wood/Getty ImagesSheffield United have been promoted from the Championship: George Wood/Getty Images
Sheffield United have been promoted from the Championship: George Wood/Getty Images

“You can do that and be professional, which the lads definitely have been,” he added. “That’s one of the things which has made me most proud of them lately. They don’t need me to tell them, genuinely, that we’re going to need more of the same going forward. It becomes ingrained in you and we want a strong finish for a whole host of reasons.”