Sheffield United: Magnificent seven for Scottish star Murphy

Sheffield United vs Carlisle United'Jamie Murphy
Sheffield United vs Carlisle United'Jamie Murphy

He has starred in the Champions League against the likes of Panathinaikos, and is a veteran of games against Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers.

So when Jamie Murphy says that the next seven games are “the biggest of his career”, you get some sense of how much promotion to the Championship would mean to Sheffield United.

“In your career you always want to win titles and be towards the top end of the table,” Murphy, a January signing from Scottish side Motherwell, said.

“The promotion picture is definitely still in our own hands.

“We’ve got a key couple of games against teams around us in the table (Swindon Town and Brentford), and it’s a busy schedule.

“We’re playing Saturday and Tuesday now until the end of the season, but that’s what you want as a player.

“The remaining seven games are the biggest games I’ve had in my career.”

Murphy, who has been struggling with back and hamstring injuries recently, was introduced as a second half substitute on Easter Monday as United failed to break down a stubborn Carlisle United outfit at Bramall Lane.

The point did move United up one place, to fourth, courtesy of Swindon’s defeat to leaders Doncaster Rovers earlier in the day, and Murphy, speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Play-Off hopefuls Walsall, said: “I always look to do something with the ball and be positive, but it just wasn’t to be against Carlisle.

“Now we’re looking forward to another vital game at Walsall on Saturday.

“That’s what the manager (Danny Wilson) said after the game - we just have to try and keep positive, and keep looking forward.

“If we do our best in the remaining games, then we will get there.”

By Wilson’s own admission, however, the lack of a genuine goalscoring threat is a cause for conern at Bramall Lane.

Loan striker Jonathan Forte missed a couple of good opportunities to break the deadlock against Greg Abbott’s men, and United now haven’t scored a home league goal since a 3-0 win over Colchester United on February 16.

“Of course it’s a concern,” Wilson said.

“It’s always a concern when you aren’t winning your home games, and our best results have been away from home.

“There’s a bit of anxiousness around, and that’s understandable but we have to try and turn that into a positive.

“We’ve got to try and break teams down, but we’ll keep plugging away. We’ll keep going.”

After the trip to Walsall, United return to their Bramall Lane headquarters for three vital home games which will ultimately shape their season.

On Tuesday they face Crawley Town, then entertain Swindon the following Saturday and Brentford on Tuesday.

They then complete their fixtures with games against Portsmouth, Crewe and Preston North End.

Throughout the League One campaign, Wilson’s men have often been frustrated by teams coming to Bramall Lane and settling for a point.

But Uwe Rosler’s Brentford, in particular, are unlikely to adopt a similar approach and Wilson said: “We have to make sure we can break teams down at Bramall Lane.

“There’s a lot of football ahead of us, between now and the end of April - there’ll be a lot of nervy moments between now and then, and there’ll be some great games of football, too.”

Dean Smith’s Walsall are currently three points off the Play-Offs, and signalled their intentions with a 4-0 home thumping of Coventry on Monday.

Striker Will Grigg is one of the league’s top marksmen, with 18 goals this term, and Wilson said: “We’ve got some great games ahead of us, including a very tough one at Walsall. They had a great result on Monday, but we’re more than capable of winning it.

“We can’t worry about not putting a team to bed - we just have to go to the next game and make sure we do better.

“There’ll always be people who are never happy, but we’re realistic. We’re still in a great position, and we have to make sure that we maximise it.”

Winger Ryan Flynn missed the Carlisle game with an ankle problem, and is a doubt for Saturday’s game.

Matt Hill was withdrawn at half-time after suffering from double vision, and Dave Kitson was also substituted with a tight hamstring.

If he is ruled out of the Walsall game, then homegrown striker Joe Ironside could be handed a rare start after an impressive cameo against Carlisle.

“Joe was absolutely brilliant,” Wilson said. “He got hold of the ball and was a real handful. His endeavour and link-up play were excellent, and the way he shows for the ball shows he is a very good young player.”

Darryl Westlake could return against his former side Walsall, after first choice right back Tony McMahon picked up his tenth booking of the season - triggering an automatic suspension.

“Tony is now suspended for two games,” Wilson confirmed, “so it isn’t going to be easy.

“But we will regroup and go again.”

Loan striker Dominic Poleon has returned to parent club Leeds United and Erik Tonne has joined Norwegian club Hamkam on loan until November.

n Follow Danny on Twitter: @dannyhall04.