Chris Wilder has challenged his Sheffield United players to ‘stay in the race’ for promotion after predicting that the battle to reach the Premier League may go down to the last month of the season.
Wilder’s fifth-placed Blades slipped to eight points behind league leaders Leeds following last Friday’s defeat to West Brom, but still only trail the Baggies in third by three points ahead of this weekend’s trip to bottom club Ipswich Town.
And the 51-year-old, who has made no secret of his desire for loan reinforcements in the January transfer window, said: “The two teams at the top [Leeds and Norwich] have had great starts and are looking at more or less two points a game. Or better.
“It would be a great achievement to keep that going. But there are ten or 11 clubs right behind them looking to pick up results.
“I would not be surprised to see it go right down to the last month. That has got to be our aim, to stick in there; to deal with the bad periods and capitalise on the good periods we will have.
"We are in a great position. I am not going to hide away from that, or mug people off by claiming any different. We have to show good qualities to stay the pace.”
Beating the teams around them would certainly help although, of the five other clubs currently in the top six, United have lost to four of them.
“Listen, if someone said to me that we’d lose against the top teams but be third, then I would be happy,” Wilder countered.
“It is about points accumulation.
But you have to win the big games. We know that, and for us to put ourselves in the position of being involved in these big games is a great achievement by the group.
“We now have to see if we can do a little bit better.”
Meanwhile, United's Bramall Lane home will host The FA Women's Continental League Cup Final on Saturday February 23 next year, the FA have confirmed.