'We'll prove all out doubters wrong' roars Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp, as he gears up for huge FA Cup clash against Arsenal
Billy Sharp, the Sheffield United captain, admits his team mates have been stung by criticism of their recent performances but is backing them to silence the doubters when Arsenal visit Bramall Lane in the FA Cup this weekend.
In a passionate address ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final tie against Mikel Arteta’s side, Sharp rounded on folk who claim United’s challenge for European football next season is over following a series of disappointing displays since English football resumed earlier this month.
Although Sharp conceded Chris Wilder’s squad have failed to hit the heights after returning to action with a controversial draw at Aston Villa, the centre-forward said: “I keep hearing people saying ‘Sheffield United are gone.’ Sheffield United this and Sheffield United that. But we are still in a great position.
“We just want to keep looking up and onto the next game, which is exactly what we are doing. A win will be important, obviously, and the lads are hurting. But we’ll stick together, as we always do, and out it right.”
With matches taking place behind closed doors, Sharp, a lifelong United supporter, accepted his colleagues have found it a challenge to play inside empty stadia.
Although injuries and suspensions have taken their toll - Wilder hopes defender Jack O’Connell, who has missed all of United’s last three outings, will shortly be passed fit, Sharp said: “I think we’ve lost our edge a bit. It’s not because we’re unfit, because we’ve worked really hard and trained really well since we’ve come back.
“There’s been a few changes but we’ve a good enough squad to make changes. Do I think it’s to do with the fans? Yes.
“We thrive off them. But we don’t have any fans for the rest of the season so we need to stick with it and stick our chests out.
“I don’t believe we are too far off it. We need to compete for 90 minutes, rather than just in spells.”