HE cannnot guarantee a victory but, if Danny Wilson gets his way, then Sheffield United will approach the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with the same determination they do League One competition.
It has been 87 long years since the South Yorkshire club won a recognised knockout tournament or tasted success at Wembley.
Tonight’s second round tie at Notts County represents a potential step towards rectifying both those blemishes United’s reputation.
The JPT, Wilson acknowledged yesterday, might not be the domestic game’s most coveted prize.
But so-called ‘big clubs’ collect cups and if United are serious about becoming a true footballing powerhouse then this piece of silverware represents a start.
“Why wouldn’t we want to win it? If a game is in front of you then it’s there to be won,” he said. “We want to go as far as we can but County are going to be a big obstacle.
“It’s a chance to get to Wembley. Some of the greatest players in the business have never appeared there.
“We want to savour that atmosphere again.”
Wilson, who steered Bristol City to JPT success nine years ago, acknowledged promotion is United’s main objective this season.
Nevertheless, the former Northern Ireland international insisted success in knockout football should not be detrimental to progress in the league.
Confirming there “will be one or two changes” to the team which drew with Oldham Athletic last weekend, Wilson described the competition as an “ideal opportunity” for “some of the younger lads” to stake claims for more prominent roles before going on to defend rules which prevent entrants from making sweeping alterations to their starting elevens.
“The great thing about the JPT is that, if you look at those people who have won it, the next time they’re in it they’re desperate to go for it again,” he said. “The later stages get very exciting and almost become a part of the calendar.
“The further you go the more the fans get excited about it too. But these early games are always tough. We know that.
“Obviously it goes without saying that we hope we’re not in it next season because that will mean we’ve gone up.
“There’s isn’t such a thing as a bad medal to win but it’s far too early for us to be thinking about that yet.”
“If you go in for something then you adhere to its rules and regulations,” Wilson added.
“You can’t always have everything your own way.
“I can understand why they’ve brought these rules in about selecting players because no sponsor in the world is going to plough money into something that becomes a mockery.
“You’ve got to have respect for every single game.”
County beat Scunthorpe in the previous round to set up this latest meeting with Wilson’s side less than three weeks after drawing 1-1 at Bramall Lane.
United, who received a bye, reached the Northern Area quarter-finals last term and will again be without Neill Collins (foot) and Mark Howard (thigh).
Coventry City, now managed by former Rotherham and Barnsley chief Mark Robins, await the winners of the first contest between these two teams at Meadow Lane since United triumphed 5-2 there last term.
“We’ll go there with no fear for Notts County but with a great deal of respect,” Wilson said. “Exactly the same as we always do.
“We’ll go there and be positive. It should be a good open and entertaining game.
“I hope we get a good result. We played very well against County in the league and were frustrated not to have come away with more.
“But that match also confirmed they’re a very good side too.
“It should be a really interesting game again, especially as there’s arguably a little bit less pressure on us both.”
Shaun Miller, Danny Philliskirk and Callum McFadzean are among those members of United’s squad hoping to be involved against County.
Keith Curle, Wilson’s opposite number, has steered the hosts to fifth - two places behind the visitors in the League One table - despite being losing three times on home soil this term.
“They (the fans) want to see us rip teams apart,” Curle said. “We don’t like losing, but you have to give credit to the teams that have come here and been well organised with two banks of four, trying to frustrate us and our crowd and get them on the players’ backs. We’re still learning how to play against teams that come here with those game plans.
“We have to move the ball quicker to try to open them up and if we can’t go through them we have to be able to go round them. We don’t want an environment where players are scared of making mistakes or going onto the field.”
ONE TO WATCH: Jordan Stewart, who spent a year with Sheffield United before joining Greek outfit Skoda Xanthi, could face his former club tonight after agreeing a short-term deal with Keith Curle’s side.
HISTORY LESSON: Sheffield United have won both of their previous two visits to Meadow Lane, scoring nine goals in the process. Only three of the last 10 meetings between these two teams have ended in draws.