Nigel Clough has fired a warning to Sheffield United’s last three league opponents, insisting: “We won’t take it easy on you.”
Clough, the Bramall Lane manager, intends to field the strongest team possible for his side’s three remaining matches; beginning at Port Vale tomorrow evening.
United’s punishing fixture schedule, further complicated by their run to the last four of the FA Cup, has seen them play 14 games since the beginning of March, and Clough admitted: “It’s been a big ask for the players, especially when we’ve gone from second bottom to here in such a short space of time.
“Add into that the cup run, and it’s been a magnificent effort from them, both physically and mentally.
“They’ve had a lot of big games, for very different reasons.
“To get to 60 points is a big achievement, and we are now targeting seventh spot.
“At the very least, we want to hold on to eighth but we want to finish as high as we possibly can.
“And to do that, we will field the best side we can for the rest of the season.”
Clough rested Stefan Scougall during Monday’s 0-0 draw at Tranmere Rovers, while captain Michael Doyle and Jose Baxter were introduced as second-half substitutes.
“We will improve our fitness,” Clough, whose team complete their league commitments with fixtures against Oldham and Coventry, continued.
“We need a good pre-season.
“You have to come to places like Tranmere and Port Vale and if you don’t win - which, of course, can’t happen every game - you make sure you don’t lose.
“We’ve tried to instil a ‘don’t lose’ mentality, even when we’re not at our best and as we develop and improve as a team, I think that will happen more and more.”