Sheffield Derby: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder praises Bramall Lane's unsung heroes ahead ofÂ Steel City clash
It speaks volumes, about both his attitude and approach, that Chris Wilder is using the build-up to Sheffield United's biggest match of the season to highlight the contributions of their less high profile players.
But as the eyes of the region turn towards Bramall Lane, where Sheffield Wednesday visit on Friday night, the home side's manager wants to talk about behind the scenes. Discuss the people and personalities who, by and large, rarely attract a headline.Â
"Away from the lights, that's where the work gets done, that's where the stuff that matters really happens," Wilder said. "Whether you are in the first team or whatever, everyone has got to be pushing, working hard and helping each other out. Because it's difficult to achieve anything if they're not."
Although he is understandably keen to emphasise their togetherness ahead of this week's Steel City derby, Wilder's words also reveal what makes his United squad tick. The likes of Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick have been driving forces behind its climb to third in the table. But without the support of others, including those on the periphery of the starting eleven, he reminds their skills would be going to waste.
"For me, the biggest challenge is keeping those boys who aren't playing at any given time happy," Wilder continued. "Because I appreciate that's what everyone wants to do. It's one I spend a lot of time on. I speak to those guys and make sure they're right. Because that's vitally important for me."
"The 11, 12 or 13 that were involved last time out won't play 46 games," he added. "That's understandable.
"The inclusiveness of how we go about it, as a group, is keeping those boys right and ready. Because at any given moment, they could be called upon."
With McGoldrick, a former Wednesday loanee, avoiding his fifth yellow card of the season against Nottingham Forest last weekend, Mark Duffy has become United's main focus of attention as he battles to overcome a hip injury. Duffy, whose creativity in the 'Number 10' position has been sorely missed in recent weeks, is expected to be declared fit for the game against Jos Luhukay's side.
After scoring the pivotal goal during last season's 4-2 victory at Hillsborough, his presence would provide United with a major psychological boost. But, even if the midfielder is declared unfit, Wilder knows whoever steps into the breach will be across their brief.
"What we dont' do here is have lads training away from the main group," he said. "And then, when they're needed, they get told to 'come over here.' That, for me, doesn't breed the right spirit. Like I say, everyone is a part of what we are trying to do." "If you don't have everyone on the same page, and the lads trying to get in aren't really pushing or helping the others, then I don't think you've prepared properly."