Jake Wright is convinced Sheffield United will reach the Championship play-offs, citing strength of character and tactical acumen as the factors which can swing the race for Premier League football in their favour.
Wright, the United centre-half, described tomorrow’s match against Queens Park Rangers as the first of 15 fixtures Chris Wilder’s side will contest in a “mini-league” to decide the top six placings.
“We’re here now and it’s up to us,” Wright said, after helping United climb to eighth in the Championship table. “For me, I expect us to do it. We are here now.
“I expect us to win the games we need to take us into the play-offs. However many wins it takes, however many points it takes, that’s what we want to do. If it takes 10 wins, then okay. If it takes 13, so be it. We’ve proved that we can go anywhere and take points. We respect teams but we don’t fear anyone.”
Four points behind sixth-placed Bristol City, United underlined their promotion credentials with a mature display against Leicester City in the FA Cup last Friday.
Although they lost the fifth round tie 1-0, Wright insisted: “I’ve think we’ve shown we’ve got more in our locker than just attacking football. We respect them and we didn’t just want to go gung-ho. But we still thought we could have won the game.”
“We’ve got 15 games left now, a big third of the season coming-up,” he continued. “The first third we were brilliant, we picked up a lot of points. We didn’t do as well in the second but we can get back to it. We’re in a mini-league now and hopefully we can get into the play-offs.
“At the start, we wouldn’t have come out and said that because you’ve got to be careful you don’t struggle or go straight back down. But we’ve proved we can match it with the big boys and that we deserve to be in the play-offs.”
Wright captained United at the King Power Stadium and, ahead of Rangers’ visit, impressed by helping them limit the number of opportunities created by an attack contained Riyad Mahrez and winning goalscorer Jamie Vardy.
Despite winning praise from the opposition manager Claude Puel for the quality of their display - George Baldock and Enda Stevens both went close to scoring against the former Premier League champions - Wright said: “It’s difficult to take anything out of it right now. When you take a team so close and have good chances, arguably the better chances, it’s hard to take positives; immediately anyway.
“If you lose any game you’re disappointed, especially when you’ve done so well. If they’d outclassed us and won three or four nil then we wouldn’t have been disappointed. But that didn’t happen and now we’ve got to regroup and train right.”