Captain Michael Doyle says Sheffield United will focus solely on themselves as they attempt to claim yet another top-flight scalp in their FA Cup third-round clash at QPR on Sunday.
Nigel Clough’s side beat seven higher-division sides during a memorable 2014, which saw them reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup at Wembley and beat West Ham and Southampton on their way to the last four of the Capital One Cup.
Their infamous FA Cup run last season began with a third-round victory away at Aston Villa, and United must once again navigate Premier League opposition if they are to emulate that run.
And while Irishman Doyle acknowledges that QPR’s roster of talent, including the likes of Joey Barton, Rio Ferdinand and in-form England hopeful Charlie Austin, is formidable, he insists that United will show no fear when the two sides lock horns at Loftus Road.
“We don’t want to go down there over-confident because we’re still a League One club, and it would be a big upset if we did beat them,” Doyle said.
“But that doesn’t mean that we’ll show any fear when we go down there because we’ve shown what we’re capable of over the last year or so, beating so many higher-level sides and reaching two cup-semi finals.
“I think we do thrive on that underdog status somewhat, as players and as a team... we seem to have found our way to play in games like that.
“Whether than comes to an end on Sunday or not, we’ll see but we can’t be anything but confident because of what we’ve done before.
“It’s not just about going there and frustrating them. Every win we’ve had, we’ve been good value for; we’ve not really hung on for any of them. We’ve always been worthy of the victory and we’ve always focused on our strengths rather than worry about the opposition’s reputation or quality.”
Doyle also insists that United will be able to look after themselves physically if the cup tie turns into a physical battle up against the likes of Barton, if the controversial midfielder is selected by Harry Redknapp.
“It’s not just him, they have quality all over with the likes of Jordan Mutch, Richard Dunne and Rio, plus Bobby Zamora and Austin. But James Wallace, if he plays, can handle himself and so can lads like Scougs [Stefan Scougall].
“Hopefully it’ll be a good cup tie, fiery and fiesty... we won’t mind that at all. It’s part and parcel of the game and if you come out on top of battles like that, it’s enjoyable personally.”
Blades boss Clough, speaking in these pages yesterday, slammed the FA for moving the cup tie to Sunday at 1pm, to allow QPR an extra day of rest following their game against Swansea City yesterday.
United, in contrast, haven’t played since their Boxing Day defeat to Port Vale after the postponment of last Sunday’s home clash with Scunthorpe and Doyle said: “I’m not sure if them having two games in quick succession will affect them or not, because they have 25-man squads in the Premier League full of quality.
“They might give a lot of players who haven’t been playing a chance, but I’m sure we’ll be bang on it whoever we come up against.
“And having not had the game against Scunthorpe as well, after the defeat at Port Vale, we’ll be chomping at the bit to get going again.
“We’ve had a long rest... let’s hope it benefits us and doesn’t go the opposite way.”
“QPR had a slow start to the season but they’ve picked up of late and are winning a lot of points at home, with a striker bang in form [Austin, with 12 goals in 17 this term].
“But we’ve worked really hard as a team against top teams in the past, and that’s what we need again Sunday if we’re to get a result.
“The quality will be no different - we have to frustrate them, dig in and work hard and then hope that our quality will come through.”