Sheffield United: These are the games Chris Wilder insists are a true test of character
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder believes this weekend's visit to Derby County will reveal more about his team's character than its forthcoming clashes against neighbours Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds.
Eleven days after climbing to the top of the Championship, United return to action following the international break with a trip to Frank Lampard's eighth-placed side.
Although they are scheduled to face their two biggest rivals before Christmas, starting with Wednesday next month, Wilder insists fixtures where local bragging rights are not up for grabs are where United's latest push for promotion could be won or lost.
Praising the character of his players since missing-out on the top six last term, Wilder said: "Does it add extra spice when you play Wednesday or Leeds? Yes, of course it does. Those games take care of themselves.
"But we've been consistent with our attitude eight the way through. You don't go to Millwall and get a result, like we did, unless you run around and show the b***s to play. Then, when we come back against Blackburn Rovers and Hull, do we take a backwards step or do we turn up? Proper players turn up."
United travel to Pride Park on the back of a four match winning streak after also beating Preston North End a month ago.Â
Acknowledging the threat County pose - they are unbeaten at home since August - Wilder added: "Everything we've got, we've had to earn and that will be no different. We'll approach every game with the same mentality, that we want to work hard, play football and cause problems.
"But this is the Championship and we're not embarrassed to admit there are going to be times when the opposition has the ball and puts us under pressure. Because this is our second season back (in the Championship) and we're up against good sides.
"But the players have been consistent. Maybe not a 'nine out of 10' all the way through. But they've been consistent in how they go about things." Wilder credits United's march to the League One title during his first season in charge with shaping their squad's mentality.
"The big games, like I say, take care of themselves," he said. "The home games, with the crowd we've got, take care of themselves. Others, in League One or League Two, you have to focus sometimes and be right at it."