Mark Howard is adamant that reaching the latter stages of the FA Cup can help Sheffield United win their battle for League One survival, writes James Shield.
Nigel Clough’s side, who host Nottingham Forest in the fifth round tomorrow, are 22nd in the table ahead of Wednesday’s visit to Gillingham.
But Howard, who regained his place in United’s starting eleven when they beat Fulham to set-up their meeting with Forest, insisted last weekend’s victory over fellow strugglers Shrewsbury Town made a mockery of claims they are unable to fight on two fronts.
“It’s been a difficult season but the cup is a great opportunity,” Howard, the United goalkeeper, said. “We took the momentum from the Fulham game into Shrewsbury so it does follow on.
“The buzz of a cup run helps. It’s something for the fans.
“We are two games away from Wembley and obviously that’s the aim. There’s no point in hiding from that. It has to be the aspiration.”
“Winning brings you together more than anything,” Howard added. “There’s a real buzz when you’re doing that and we’ve shown togetherness, strength of character and defended superbly well.”
Howard, previously of Blackpool, St Mirren and Aberdeen, spent much of the season deputising for George Long before Clough recalled him at Craven Cottage.
Having kept clean sheets against Rene Meulensteen’s team and the visitors from Greenhous Meadow, Howard said: “I wanted to get back playing. It’s been two games and two clean sheets so hopefully we can build on that.
“Since the gaffer came in I’ve just kept my head down and tried to be professional. My contract is up in the summer so we’ll see what happens.
“I’ve always tried to work hard. I’ve never been one to knock on his door or anything like that.
“It’s nice to be noted. Hard work goes a long way in football and I feel as if I’ve been training well.”