Sheffield United: ‘We are hurting right now’

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George Long last night admitted Sheffield United’s players are “hurting massively” after failing to win promotion this season.

But the former England youth international, who is poised to agree a new contract at Bramall Lane, revealed it has made Nigel Adkins’ squad even more determined to succeed next term.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” Long told The Star. “We set ourselves a target and it’s not been achieved.

“We’re hurting massively and, given the quality we’ve got here, it’s really hard to take.”

“But we’ve got to take the positives,” he added. “And what’s happened will only drive us on.

“We’ve picked-up form of late and, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve got a great chance next season.”

United enter Sunday’s final match of the 2015/16 campaign five points behind sixth-placed Barnsley. Scunthorpe, this weekend’s visitors to Bramall Lane, could overhaul Paul Heckingbottom’s side if they avoid defeat.

Although last weekend’s defeat by Coventry City marked the end of their top six challenge, Long insisted the fact it was United’s first set-back in six outings should provide a source of encouragement.

“You’ve got to win the majority of your home games and pick up points on the road,” Long said. “We’ve done that of late and we have to do it next season as well. That’s absolutely key.”