Captain Michael Doyle believes two “huge” games at Bramall Lane over the festive period could shape the remainder of Sheffield United’s season.
United finish off 2013 with successive home clashes against Oldham (Boxing Day) and Tranmere (December 29).
They then face four games away from home in January, including the FA Cup trip to Aston Villa, and Irishman Doyle said: “The two home games we have at home are huge.
“If we can put a bit of a run together over the festive period, which we are more than capable of doing, then we can suddenly find ourselves up and around mid-table, or maybe higher.
“We’re not getting too carried away with ourselves: we know we’re still in a dogfight.
“But at this time of year, a run of good results can change everything.”
Doyle revealed that his United team-mates have a renewed sense of belief and confidence, under Nigel Clough: “The lads are enjoying winning again,” he added.
“I think at the start of the season, we got in the habit of losing games. We weren’t scoring goals, and we were vulnerable.
“But the confidence is coming back now, and that is showing on the pitch.”
Goalkeeper George Long added: “The new manager should take a lot of credit for the upturn in results. He and his staff have worked tirelessly.”