Blades boss issues a warning to rivals

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Boss Nigel Clough has warned Sheffield United’s last three opponents that he will not let his side’s season finish with a whimper.

Instead, the Bramall Lane boss is prepared to field his strongest side available against Port Vale, Oldham and Coventry - beginning with tomorrow evening’s trip to Vale Park.

Clough, speaking after Monday’s draw at Tranmere ended their faint play-off hopes, said: “To get to 60 points, considering where these lads have come from, is an achievement in itself.

“They’ve had to work hard to get there because, as everyone knows, not so long ago we were at the other end of the table.

“We want to finish as high as we possibly can. That’s why we will select the best team, or what we feel is the best team, for our remaining games which is exactly what we did at Tranmere.

“A lot has been asked of the players and they’re mentally and physically tired. But we can forgive them that.

“It’s to be expected because they’ve had a lot of big games for different reasons.

“But we want to keep on improving. If we can get seventh place then that’s what we’ll aim for. And at the very least, we want to hold on to eighth.”

United - who, of course, made it to the last four of the FA Cup and were defeated at Wembley by Hull City earlier this month - have played 26 games since the turn of the year, losing just six.

Tomorrow, they face a Vale side a place below them in the table, with the same number of points.

Harry Maguire, who was substituted with cramp at Tranmere, should feature but Bob Harris could miss the rest of the season.

Michael Doyle and Jose Baxter, left on the bench for the first half at Prenton Park, will come back into contention. Doyle could replace Stephen McGinn, who has been ill.

Clough is also expected to call upon the services of Stefan Scougall, the Scottish youngster who was rested after suffering from fatigue due to United’s punishing fixture schedule.

“We missed Stefan’s zip and quick feet at Tranmere,” the former England international admitted.

“So we’re hoping Stefan will be back for our next game.

“He, like a few of the other lads, should benefit from a bit of a break.”