Sheffield United: Blades striker braced for battle

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CHRIS Porter, the Sheffield United striker, has predicted today’s match with Crawley Town will be a psychological and physical war.

But Porter, who challenged his teammates to seize control of the League One promotion race ahead of this afternoon’s clash against Richie Barker’s side, warned United possess the strength of character to cope with the most gruelling of conditions.

With a capacity of 5,996 - nearly three times less than United’s average gate this season - Broadfield Stadium is among the most claustrophobic grounds in the competition.

Porter said: “I hear lots of people say how hard it is to go to places like this but we’ve got the experience to handle it. The pitch is still the same size as everywhere else and it’s 11 players versus 11 players.

“Yes, the crowd feels like it’s right on top of you but we’ve got lads here who have played in some really hostile atmospheres.

“I know what it’s like to go there and I know we are going to have to work for anything we get.

“But things like the ground and the closeness of it all only become an issue if you let it. And when you’ve been in the game a while you learn to remind yourself of that and cope. We’ve got the personnel and the mindset to adapt.”

United travelled south yesterday third in the table while Crawley prepared for the visit of Danny Wilson’s charges placed 10th.

Porter, a member of the Derby County squad beaten there in the FA Cup 23 months ago, added: “The league is waiting to someone to strike out and put some daylight between themselves and the rest. I’m sure a few teams will start doing that soon.

“We’ll be looking to put together a run over this period of games and, if we do, then that will start to put pressure on the teams around us.

“But we know Crawley are a strong team and that this will be a difficult encounter. We’ll be giving it everything, as usual.”