Danny Wilson is relishing a crack at Charlton’s unbeaten home record armed with the statistics to prove that Sheffield United’s challenge to the leaders is no idle threat.
“If we go for a draw, we’ll get beat,” says the Blades boss, setting his sights high for a game that could open up the race for automatic promotion.
Victory at the Valley would leave United just one point behind Charlton whose win at Hillsborough last week demonstrated their durability.
If any team can break the Addicks’ hold on the division it has to be the Blades on current form. Wilson’s men have won 11 or their last 12 games in all competitions, rattling up 30 goals in the process. That sequence immediately followed the last occasion when United failed to score - a 2-0 home loss to Charlton on October 1.
The re-match can be approached with great confidence. “We’ll be going down there in a positive frame of mind,” Wilson told the Telegraph.
“Yes, it’s a big, big test - our biggest so far. Charlton’s record suggests they are the best team in the league. They’ve bought a lot of players who have gelled well.They are very strong and have the big advantage at this level of good experience. There is a work ethic and they get the ball to the front men.
“Those are all ingredients we have to match. But I know we are well capable of doing that. If you set out to draw a game like this you’ll get beaten, simple as that. We won’t be going there with that in mind. We’ll be positive.”
All round, it’s hard to spot a weakness in the Blades right now, much like Charlton. If there was a chink at one stage, it was a lack of ruthlessness.
But as Wilson notes: “We’ve moved up a notch. The problem before was the chances we weren’t converting. It wasn’t enough to be looking to win by the odd goal.
“Now we are getting a few more. That said, you are never happy in this game. There is always something you can get better at.”
Midfielder Kevin McDonald has certainly bought into the improvement creed, having hit his most effective run for the club as a midfield architect who can also do some digging out if necessary.
“Kevin’s proved his quality at a higher level and he’s now getting his head round what we want from him,” said Wilson. “His work ethic is excellent and the way our team is set up, you can’t have two or three who are not putting it in. It’s been a challenge to him. Consistency is the key. Kevin was exceptional at Bury last week and we’ve got to have that consistency from him.”
Higher up the park, Wilson’s quest for strikers is unrelenting. “The more the merrier,” as he puts it.
Blackpool’s Billy Clarke remains on he agenda. “He’s still there - wait and see,” says the Blades boss, who missed out on John Fleck when the Rangers’ midfielder chose to go to Bloomfield Road instead.
That could well have a consolation for United if Clarke is spared for a second loan stint at Bramall Lane.
Rangers defender Kyle Hutton is still an option, while a decision is imminent on a longer stay for James Beattie.
“We’re still talking with James and we’ll see how things go towards the end of the week,” said Wilson, who remains wary of the ever lurking danger of being hit with unwelcome bids for players he wants to keep.
“At the moment, there is nothing at all to report and that’s the way I want it. I don’t want anything to jeopardise things.
“But there are still 10 days to go. I’m sure there might besomebody putting a spanner in the works in the last few days of the window.”