Chris Wilder admits his attitude towards the Checkatrade Trophy has probably coloured Sheffield United’s performances in this season’s competition.
But even though the League One club’s manager would prefer the competition is scrapped, he will not allow his squad to use that as an excuse for a below-par display against Grimsby Town.
“I think my thoughts on the competition have probably made it difficult for some of the lads at times,” he said. “Equally, though, whenever you pull on a Sheffield United shirt you should be giving your utmost. People know what I think about it (the Checkatrade Trophy) but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win games.”
One player who will not be lacking motivation during tonight’s Northern Group H dead-rubber is George Long if, as expected, he is recalled to the starting eleven at Blundell Park.
The former England under-20 goalkeeper has not played since August after losing his place to Simon Moore. But with fellow Steelphalt Academy graduate Aaron Ramsdale away on international duty, the 23-year-old’s hopes of a recall have been enhanced. Caolan Lavery could make his full United debut against Marcus Bignot’s side while David Brooks is also set to feature. Both appeared as second-half substitutes when United beat Leyton Orient 6-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Grimsby, who like United can not qualify for the knockout phase of the tournament, will be playing their first match under new manager Marcus Bignot.
“We’ve got a big match coming up (against Chesterfield) and so we will be making changes,” Wilder said.