Sheffield United’s players will not be intimidated by Fulham’s reputation or recent run of results, manager Chris Wilder has insisted, ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the two clubs at Craven Cottage.
United, who expect Wales international David Brooks to be available for the match, travel to London four places and seven points behind Slaviša Jokanović’s side following the postponement of their game with Burton Albion last weekend.
Unbeaten in the Championship since December 16, Fulham triumphed 5-4 at Bramall Lane earlier this term but Wilder, again denying he is eyeing a top six finish, said: “Football isn’t decided before the game or on form. I’m not looking at the finish line either. All I’m looking at is my team and the next game.”
Despite his reluctance to admit otherwise, Wilder is determined to guide his team into the end of season play-offs.
Confirming his disappointment that the weather had forced Albion’s visit to be rescheduled, he added: “We made a quick decision as a football club. We trained over the weekend. The players were going to have Wednesday off anyway but they have Thursday and Friday too, albeit with a programme to do at home. They came in on Saturday and they were flying.”
One positive to come out of the change to United’s fixture programme was the extra time it gave Brooks (back), Ricky Holmes (back) and James Wilson (ankle) to recover from the injuries which have hampered their progress in recent weeks.
Although Wilder acknowledged other members of his squad were set to be assessed by medical staff before boarding the train south, he used Kieron Freeman’s imminent return to fitness to praise the work of United’s fitness and conditioning department. Freeman, who has been absent since October after dislocating a knee, is set to start this afternoon’s under-23 fixture against Huddersfield Town.
“We’ve got a couple of late tests,” Wilder said. “You can ask who they are but all I’ll say is a couple of late tests. David Brooks, James Wilson and Ricky Holmes will travel though.
“Hopefully the only one we’ll have missing, with Kieron playing 90, is Paul Coutts. That’s good because it gives me an opportunity to pick the right team.”