FA Cup hero Chris Porter wants to repay boss Nigel Clough’s faith in him - by firing Sheffield United to League One safety.
Porter’s two-goal cameo helped United to a dramatic 3-1 victory over Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane - and set up the possibility of a home quarter-final tie against Sheffield Wednesday, if United’s Steel City rivals can overcome Charlton Athletic on Monday evening.
Porter’s brace - a penalty minutes after coming on, and a close-range finish from Jamie Murphy’s cross - took his season’s goal tally to seven.
The 30-year-old spent a month on loan at League Two side Chesterfield after falling out of favour under Clough’s predecessor, David Weir.
But Clough, who brought the striker to Derby after a prolific spell north of the border at Motherwell, has kept the faith and Porter admitted: “I am very grateful.
“Under the previous manager, I didn’t get much of a chance... he wanted to play his new players, which was understandable, but it was a difficult start for me under him.
“It was the same with a couple of other lads who are now flourishing under the new manager, and I am happy to get the chance to show what I can do.
“And I want to keep repaying him, with goals.”
Porter enjoyed a barren first five games under Weir, before joining Paul Cook’s Spireites.
He made four appearances there without finding the net, before finally notching his first of the season from the penalty spot in United’s 3-2 FA Cup win at Colchester.
Two goals in his next three games followed, and Porter recalled: “It was a difficult time when I was left on the bench, or sometimes left out of the squad completely.
“But I am not the sort of character to give up, and I’m never happy to sit and pick my money up while playing in the reserves. I’m not that kind of person.
“That’s part of the reason I wanted to go out on loan, but now I am back here and I want to keep on contributing to the team’s success.”
Clough decided to tell his players about the potential meeting with Wednesday at half-time against Forest on Sunday - but Porter, named on the bench, missed the announcement as he was on the pitch warming up.
“It would be a massive game against Wednesday, if it were to happen,” he added.
“But they have a tough game against Charlton to get through first, so we don’t know who we will face yet.
“But of course, Wednesday is the tie that we all want. It would be massive for the city of Sheffield, and people would talk about it for months afterwards.
“There would be an unbelievable atmosphere - but Charlton isn’t an easy tie.”
Before he can dream of another FA Cup goal, however, Porter must turn his attentions to Saturday’s vital clash against relegation rivals Bristol City at Bramall Lane.
United then face two consecutive away trips, to Colchester and MK Dons, and Porter said: “The manager has already said that the league is the priority for us, so it will be easy for us to put aside all thoughts of Wednesday and Wembley.
“To get so far in the cup is great, of course, but we have to remain focused on getting out of the bottom four.
“We have a few games in hand on the teams around us, so if we win those then we’ll be well out of that drop zone.
“It’s still incredibly tight - there are probably ten teams all looking over their shoulders - but we’re in a good position, with our games in hand.”
Porter’s team-mate Stefan Scougall, who had made three of his five United appearances in the FA Cup before last night’s trip to Gillingham, added: “I’ve found that the tempo is quicker in League One - you get pressured for the whole game, whereas in the cup ties we have had more time.
“The games are coming round thick and fast and will continue to for a couple of weeks.
“So we need to use this period to start picking up points and easing away from the relegation zone.”