Chris Basham thinks today’s top of the table clash with Scunthorpe could be the biggest match of his Sheffield United career.
The midfielder was a member of the squad which reached the Capital One Cup and League One play-off semi-finals two years ago.
But with United five points clear of Graham Alexander’s second-placed side ahead of their meeting at Bramall Lane, Basham said: “It will definitely be one of my biggest ever games at Bramall Lane. We are top and they are second top. It’s a really tasty encounter. It will be one of those games where we’ll have to grind it out in one way or another. Just be ready to do whatever it takes to get the win.”
With the race for promotion still delicately poised - both Scunthorpe and Bolton Wanderers in third have played fewer games than United - manager Chris Wilder yesterday insisted it is still far too early to predict how it will eventually unfold. But, with Wanderers set to visit South Yorkshire next weekend, he conceded the season has reached a pivotal phase.
“We are just looking at ourselves,” Wilder said. “I am not going to spin it. Do we want teams underneath us to win? Of course not.
“When you see someone in third or fourth place getting beat, that’s a bonus. But we have always looked at us, getting our performance right consistently.
“We have had a right go in every game. We have conceded daft goals at time, not punished teams, but consistently for a long time now played really decent football.”
United drew 0-0 with Bristol Rovers on Tuesday, despite making sweeping changes to their starting eleven. Although Billy Sharp, the division’s leading goalscorer, Kieron Freeman and James Hanson are all set to be recalled this afternoon, Basham said: “I’m excited with the quality we’ve got, we made five changes at Bristol Rovers and everyone who stepped in did well.
“We’re really tuned in to how the gaffer and Knilly (assistant manager Alan Knill) want us to play. We’re enjoying ourselves. We showed a lot of spirit and aggression to try and get three points or a point in a different way down there. They are really good at home and so they came into it. We can’t want to get out there in these two home games.”
“They (Scunthorpe) are not going to be easy,” Basham added. “They have been top or second top all the way through. They’ve got danger in (Josh) Morris who is keeping Billy on his toes and lots of experience.
“We took a point there earlier in the season and it looks like a good point now. They’ve hit a bit of a sticky patch and hopefully we can take advantage of that. We’ll be giving it everything.”