Barring a shock of seismic proportions, the play-offs provide Sheffield United’s only hope of reaching the Championship next term, writes James Shield.
But, if they do take the Wembley route, John Brayford believes their recent experiences in knockout competition will stand them in good stead.
Nigel Clough’s side, who enter tomorrow’s game against Port Vale fifth in the League One table but 17 points behind second placed Preston North End, have reached the semi-finals of both the FA and Capital One cups since his appointment as manager 17 months ago.
Brayford told The Star: “Those matches, and more importantly the way people have performed in them, give us lots of confidence. We know we’ve got the characters here who can do it on the big stage in those high-pressure situations.
“It always makes me smile when I hear folk say there’s nothing to lose, no pressure, when you’re in our position going into those games because that’s not the case at all. It comes from different sources but there was as much as much on us as the Premier League teams, without a doubt.
“Thirty thousand crowds, even more at Wembley, might shake others. But we’ve been there and been involved in them. We know what to expect.”
Brayford, however, insisted his words should not be interpreted as a sign that United are prepared to rule out the impossible ahead of their meeting with Vale who head to South Yorkshire ranked 13th after being beaten by Crawley Town while Clough’s team were drawing at Walsall.
“We’ve got 10 cup finals left,” he said. “I don’t like using cliches but there’s an element of truth in them.
“We know if we win all of our games then we’ll be there or there abouts. That’s what this division has been like this year.
“We understand people think we should be first or second. We’ve got 10 big games left and then, probably, three after that. Judge us then.”