Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins says he has an “obligation” not to field a weakened team against Scunthorpe this weekend.
Speaking after a 3-1 defeat by Coventry City dashed United’s own play-off hopes, Adkins insisted making wholesale changes for Sunday’s final match of the season would damage the intergrity of League One.
Although his stance will avert a row with Barnsley, who are locked in a battle for sixth-place with Scunthorpe, Adkins insisted it is designed to ensure United “learn the lessons” of a bitterly disappointing campaign which has prompted calls for drastic action behind the scenes.
“Yes, we have an obligation,” he said. “We are going out there to win. The reality is we needed to win this game (at Coventry) but what I also know is that we’ve got one more game to go and will be doing everything we can to win that.”
Asked if he could use Scunthorpe’s visit to blood a number of academy graduates, Adkins responded: “I’m not looking at age, there’s no sentiment. I’m looking to win a game of football. Full stop.”
United were installed as title favourites following Adkins’ appointment in June but are now on course for their lowest league finish since the early 80s. Coventry leapfrogged above United into ninth after goals from Marc-Antoine Fortune and Andy Rose put them 2-0 in front. Billy Sharp reduced the deficit before Ruben Lameiras pounced in the closing stages.
“The only thing I am interested in is Sheffield United and Sheffield United trying to win a game of football,” Adkins said. “We’ve got lots of stuff to do over the summer to make sure we are ready for next year.”
“After the final whistle we will reflect on how the season has gone and what we need to do to get it right next season.”
Acknowledging United have “fallen short”, Adkins added: “Lots of things have happened, lots of things have been done. People will have all sorts of opinions on that but we have to make sure we are ready for the season coming-up.”