MICKY Adams, the Sheffield United manager, last night dismissed claims that the Championship fixture schedule has dealt his players a blow in their battle for survival.
United, who are 22nd in the table, could face leaders Queens Park Rangers on Monday seven points adrift of safety if relegation rivals Crystal Palace beat Barnsley 48 hours earlier at Selhurst Park.
With fellow strugglers Scunthorpe and Preston North End also in action over the weekend, the psychological implications of such a swing could be huge.
Having already lamented the timing of the international break, which denied United the opportunity to gather momentum following their recent win over Leeds, Adams confessed he would “rather not” be playing catch-up.
But he told The Star: “It shouldn’t make any difference to us because we know we’ve got to win as many matches as possible anyway. Whenever we play, we can’t afford to be worrying about what others are doing. We’ve got to take care of ourselves.
“In an ideal world we’d have rather had another game straight away (after Leeds) and then been kicking off with everybody else.
“Yes, if Palace or Scunthorpe win then we know what we might have to do. But we know that anyway so, as far as I’m concerned, nothing changes.”
Rangers, managed by former United chief Neil Warnock, are nine points ahead of second-placed Norwich City and seemingly destined for promotion.
Having kept 21 clean sheets and scored 60 goals this season, they are the outstanding team in the division but Adams insisted United will not be cowed into submission.
“We’ve shown great character to win our last two home games,” he said. “And we’ve performed well too.
“They were thoroughly deserved.” Blades: P36