Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has vowed to punish any player suspected of complacency during tomorrow’s League One encounter with Fleetwood Town, writes James Shield.
Despite their opponent’s formidable record at Highbury - Graham Alexander’s side have lost once at home in the competition since August - United make the journey west expected to secure their fourth away victory of the campaign.
But, warning his squad will be making a grave mistake if they allow Tuesday’s Capital One Cup quarter-final against Southampton to cause a distraction, Clough said: “I would hope that’s not the case. Because they know if they don’t play well here then they won’t even get the chance on Tuesday.
“The next game is always the most important. Fleetwood is more important than Southampton without a shadow of a doubt because there are still 75 or 80 points up for grabs and we know, come the end of the season, where we want to be.
“These are the ones that get you in the top six or beyond. Southampton will take care of itself with 25 or 27 thousand people in the stadium.
“I think we will be up for it. It’s just a case of injuries and if we can get a good enough side out there.”
Craig Alcock and Chris O’Grady, signed on emergency loan from Brighton and Hove Albion, are both doubts as they nurse back and calf complaints respectively. James Wallace and Ben Davies have also been absent while another loanee, Crystal Palace’s Paddy McCarthy, will be ineligible for selection against the visitors from St Mary’s.
“There are one or two who naturally won’t play on Tuesday. Paddy and Chris included because they were cup-tied when they came in.
“We’ve got one shot at the League Cup semi-final after Fleetwood. If there’s players struggling with knocks, the extra two or three days might help and we’ll leave them, but we’d probably do that if it was a league game anyway.”