Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder last night insisted his team has ‘no interest’ in the sideshows surrounding tomorrow’s derby with Chesterfield.
Wilder’s opposite number Danny Wilson, his assistant Chris Morgan and leading goalscorer Ched Evans have all represented United in the past with the latter scoring 35 goals in 42 appearances during his final season with the South Yorkshire club.
Wilder refused to be drawn into the debate about whether Evans might return to Bramall Lane at some point in the future during yesterday’s pre-match press conference at the Steelphalt Academy.
Despite acknowledging the links between the two clubs, Wilder said: “I don’t think the players are that interested and I am not making anything of it. The players will read bits and pieces and there’s obviously connections. But I just think supporters and everybody outside of the two teams are making more of it than what we are, which is totally understandable.”
United strikers Caolan Lavery and Leon Clarke both enjoyed loan spells at Chesterfield earlier in their careers.
Wilder’s squad heads to the Proact Stadium hoping to stretch its unbeaten run in League One competition to 12 games.
Asked whether “strong minds” hold the key to success, he responded: “I think it always is playing for this football club. You must have that and the players are showing that. There’s a togetherness that they have got and a willingness to work for each other and put in a shift for each other and the football club. When you get a group of players and not just 11 who are willing to go that extra bit, it is tough to stop. But it is only as good as your last game or training session.”
Describing United’s support this season as “inspiring”, Wilder added: “As soon as you take the foot off the gas, things can quickly derail it and myself and the players need to keep focused and keep our heads down and hammer down and move onto the next game. But they are certainly looking forward to the game and atmosphere and there’s a big buzz around and they want to be involved in the game.”
United, who are fourth in the table, drew 3-3 with Yorkshire rivals Bradford City at Valley Parade last month.
Drawing comparisons between that fixture and tomorrow’s contest, Wilder said: “it is a similar game apart from about 10,000 supporters. It is a tighter ground and will be up and at them and it is important we keep our calm and composure and play the game. Go that extra yard for each other.”