Sheffield United are ready to hunt down the early League One leaders and stamp their authority on the race for promotion from League One, manager Nigel Clough has warned.
And Clough, whose squad climed to fifth in the table after beating Crewe Alexandra last weekend, insisted pace-setters Bristol City and Preston North End will be making a grave mistake if they underestimate his team’s chances of claiming a top two berth at the end of the campaign.
United enter Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley knowing that a fourth straight win could see them overtake Simon Grayson’s second-placed side and Clough told The Star: “Despite everything we keep hearing, it’s not over yet. Things will get a lot closer towards the top over the next few months.
“We’re still nowhere near the levels we know these players are capable of but we’ve got ourselves in touch which is where we wanted to be. We’re improving all the time though and so that’s encouraging, that we are where we are believing we can still get so much better.”
City are five points clear at the top of the table while Preston are two ahead of United having played a game less.
“City have made a great start and, who knows, they might keep it going,” Clough added. “But they’ll have some tough moments, the same as everyone else, they know that.
“We’ve got to try and keep on building and keep on gathering momentum. That’s our aim and we’re certainly in a much better position than when we last went to Crewe.”
Clough have spent the past 24 hours considering an outline agreement, sketched in tandem with Blackpool, aimed at delivering Steven Davies to Bramall Lane. Officials at Bloomfield Road are believed to have granted permission for the centre-forward to complete a transfer to Bramall Lane but his move has hit a stumbling block over the terms of that agreement.
While United, who visit MK Dons in the Capital One Cup tomorrow, are happy to consider signing Davies on a permanent basis next year should he prove a success, the size of the loan fee Blackpool want them to pay is believed to be the cause of the delay.
That has prompted Clough and his staff to devise an alternative list of targets with at least one known to have been the subject of discussions between United and his parent club.
Clough said: “Steve is a name on a list but he’s also somebody else’s player and so it’s difficult to comment further.”