Daniel Lafferty has drawn comparisons between Sheffield United’s surge-up the League One table and Northern Ireland’s march to Euro 2016.
The Derry-born defender, who has been capped 13 times by his country, told The Star there are similarities between the methods employed by United manager Chris Wilder and Michael O’Neill, his counterpart in Belfast.
Wilder’s side enter Saturday’s game against second-placed Bradford City knowing that victory would lift them above their Yorkshire rivals despite suffering a slow start to the 49-year-old’s reign.
“Yes, you could say there are similarities,” Lafferty said. “I don’t think you can ignore the importance of a team that’s willing to work. It’s so under-rated, having that desire and willingness to work hard. If you are ready to run hard for each other and work hard for each other, then the tactical stuff falls into place.”
United failed to win any of their first five outings following Wilder’s appointment in May but are now unbeaten in nine league outings after beating Shrewsbury Town earlier this week.
“All of the lads, 20 odd players, are willing to work hard,” Lafferty added. “If you train at that intensity, then you’ll take it into games. Other teams don’t train like we do and we take great pride in that. We all get on together off the pitch and that’s why we battle for each other on. That’s testament to the management here.
“Everybody is constantly pushing each other. You can’t come off even two or three per cent because, if you do, then there’s the possibility that someone is going to turn us over. And we don’t want that. We want to carry this run on.”