Nigel Adkins has challenged his players to justify their status as promotion favourites.
The Sheffield United manager, who last night outlined plans to improve the club’s injury record, insisted his squad must embrace the pressure of being viewed as League One’s most sought-after scalp rather than view it as a burden as the race for Championship football gathers pace.
Adkins, whose team enter tomorrow’s game against Rochdale seventh in the table, knocked Notts County out of the JP Trophy earlier this week.
“We played some super football the other night and it was a shame that there were only four or five thousand there to see it,” he said. “Was that a factor? Did the players feel more freedom? I don’t know but to play for Sheffield United you’ve got to show you can perform in the arena.
“Every manager we play against says their team has just given its most complete performance. That’s the situation, that’s the reality, you just have to deal with it.”
Adkins, speaking ahead of the game against sixth-placed Rochdale, added: “The stature of our club, we get 20,000 and Bradford City get big crowds too, is obviously there. But, the fact of the matter is, everybody is in League One. Rochdale, for example, are in our division and they do very, very well. Maybe some recent performances have highlighted what I’m talking about.
“We expect it of ourselves but there’s no given right. You have to work hard and I believe we work hard here.
“We are in the race, we’d all love to be in front, but at the moment we are tucked into the pack. It’s all about staying in the race until January and then putting ourselves in a position whereby we can go and win it.”