Nigel Clough says Jose Baxter and Jamie Murphy can be key figures in Sheffield United’s battle for League One survival after watching them score the goals which took his team into the third round of the FA Cup.
Baxter and Murphy were both on target as United condemned their namesakes from Cambridge to a first home defeat of the season at the Abbey Stadium yesterday.
United, who return to action when promotion chasing Swindon Town visit Bramall Lane this weekend, clawed themselves out of the bottom four when they drew with leaders Leyton Orient nine days ago and Clough told The Star: “We all know the quality that Jose has got, especially at this level.
“If we can get him on the pitch and we can get the ball to him then he’s capable of putting it in the back of the net as he’s just shown.
“We want to be hard to beat and we want to be disciplined and resiliant. But, it goes without saying, it’s also important to get goals and he can deliver those.”
Baxter pounced during the opening stages of a contest which, with Cambridge a point clear at the top of the Conference table, Clough had earlier described as a “potential banana skin.” But Murphy, who entered the fray when Stephen McGinn was withdrawn after reporting discomfort in his knee, sealed United’s progress with a well-taken second-half strike.
“Jamie is starting to show us more now,” Clough, whose side were later drawn away to Premier League Aston Villa in the third round, added. “We knew there would be space out wide with the way Cambridge play and so that, coupled with the fact he’s done well lately and worked hard in training, was why we sent him on.
“It was a good move and, like Jose, he showed that he can finish. It’s another good option to have.”
Meanwhile, Clough paid tribute to United’s travelling support after 558 of them made the journey to Cambridgeshire despite the early kick-off.
“I thought it was brilliant to see so many here, especially when you consider the time they’ll have had to leave home,” he said. “It is very much appreciated.
“People reckon the FA Cup has lost it’s magic? Well, it clearly hasn’t for those supporters because, if it had, then it would have been easy for them to stay at home and just watch it on the box.”