Chris Wilder has urged Sheffield United supporters to help drag his team through two fixtures he believes could decide whether or not they can reach the Championship play-offs.
United enter Tuesday’s match against Burton Albion five points behind sixth-placed Middlesbrough with a game in hand following the weekend draw at Ipswich Town.
Wilder, whose side will stage only their second home contest since February 20 when Nottingham Forest visit South Yorkshire on Saturday, acknowledged: “Now, perhaps more than at any other time this season, we could do with the fans helping us and getting right behind us like they always do.
“It’s been a tough schedule, lots of away games, and there are a few tired bodies and tired minds out there.
“That’s understandable but having that backing, having our followers help the lads recover and get right back on it, could make all the difference.
“They’ve given everything they’ve got, put everything in for themselves, the club and the people who came down to Portman Road and were brilliant as usual.
“They’ll do that again (against Burton) but it’s times like this, at this stage of the season, when they really deserve to see a little bit of that back.
“I know our crowd, with what it’s like, will respond.”
Despite dominating the second-half of their meeting with Mick McCarthy’s side, there were signs the physical and psychological demands of the past few weeks are beginning to take their toll on United’s squad in Suffolk.
The most evident came soon after the interval when the otherwise impressive John Lundstram elected to pass rather than shoot after bursting clean through on goal.
With substitute James Wilson striking a post late on, United were forced to share the spoils with opponents who have now failed to score in each of their previous four outings on home soil.
“We’re still right in the mix, it’s still all to play for,” Wilder, who hopes Leon Clarke will be available to face Albion, said.
“But we’ll definitely know more at a quarter-to-five on Saturday afternoon. These are two really important games coming -up for us going into the international break and we want to make the most of them.”
“I’ve been critical in the past when I’ve felt it was necessary,” he added. “But I’m happy with how the lads approached the game against Ipswich. Their attitude as spot on, they kept on going and kept on trying to force the issue. So long as they keep on doing the same, then that gives us a chance as far as I’m concerned.”