George Baldock has admitted Sheffield United’s players dare not think about reaching the Premier League this season, because they fear being punished by manager Chris Wilder.
Six months after lifting the League One title, United travel to Queens Park Rangers tonight on top of the Championship table after winning eight of their last 10 games.
But, speaking ahead of the match at Loftus Road, Baldock explained why no member of the South Yorkshire club’s squad will be heard discussing the possibility of achieving back to back promotions.
“The gaffer would come down pretty hard on us if he heard anyone talking about that,” he said. “In any case, it’s far too early to be speaking in those terms and, if you do, then there’s a danger you can start to lose focus.
“Seriously, it’s not an issue here at all. It’s not something we’re even going to worry about or discuss. Taking things game by game has got us this far and that’s the way we are going to carry on.”
Although Wilder yesterday conceded that although some members of his squad might be joking about United’s surge up the rankings - “I want them to be bright and bubbly” - his decision to criticise their performance during last week’s win over Leeds confirmed the veracity of Baldock’s words.
“Some people might have been surprised to hear him say that,” Baldock, the former MK Dons defender, continued. “But I can honestly say I wasn’t. We’ve got high standards here and we are looking to improve all the time. We weren’t as good as we could have been (at Elland Road) and, if you don’t address things like that, then those can begin to slip.”
Nevertheless Baldock, whose brother Sam plays as centre-forward for top-flight side Brighton and Hove Albion, revealed United’s latest victory had impressed the 28-year-old and his colleagues on the south coast.
“He was really pleased for us and he told me he wouldn’t mind playing alongside Leon Clarke, given the display he put in,” Baldock added. “I told Leon and he was pleased with that, he had a laugh about it. Sam said, when he went in the next day, the rest of the boys down there thought it was a really good game and obviously Jamie Murphy, who was here before, was delighted with how it had turned out.”
Daniel Lafferty has been called-up by Northern Ireland for their World Cup qualification play-off against Switzerland. But his team mates Paul Coutts and John Fleck have both been omitted from the Scotland squad which faces Holland in a friendly at Pittodrie, much to the bemusement of United captain Billy Sharp who posted on social media: “Fleck and Coutts suspended?”