Chris Wilder says Sheffield United can have no excuses if they fail to win the League One title.
With only eight matches of the season remaining, United enter tomorrow’s game against Oldham Athletic six points clear of second-placed Bolton Wanderers and 10 ahead of Fleetwood Town in third.
Wilder, who is chasing back to back promotions after leading Northampton Town to top spot in the fourth tier last term, said: “After 46 games, the best teams come out on top. There was an opinion last season on my team, that it was the second best team in the division, it’s absolute bonkers.
“The best team wins the league. The team who wins the Premier League this year will be the best team. That’s the same in any division, you don’t get handed a division.
“We are going to have to earn that right, starting again on Saturday. I won’t moan about it, this is football and it’s up to us to overcome what is put in front of us. Whether it’s a long-distance journey, or losing players through injury or suspensions.”
United travel to Boundary Park, where the playing surface has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with a near full strength squad at their disposal after Leon Clarke completed 60 minutes of a behind-closed doors friendly with Rotherham earlier this week. But former Burnley defender Daniel Lafferty, who has made 32 appearances for Wilder’s side since arriving at Bramall Lane in August, is absent having been selected in the Northern Ireland squad for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Norway.
“We have never moaned and groaned about injuries, suspensions, state of pitches, refereeing decisions,” Wilder said. “We were involved in a game, like I have never been involved in my career, with Walsall a while back, given the amount of things which went against us.
“It happens, and that’s my attitude towards Daniel Lafferty going. He goes, we have options. Lafferty will then have to do well to get back in the team if the team plays well.
“If I was Danny I would be thinking ‘delighted to be going away with Northern Ireland, but don’t know what happens at United because they have got everybody fit’.
“Michael O’Neill spoke to me last Tuesday and said there’s a possibility Danny will be called up. Thanks for the heads-up, totally understand.
“Danny has earned the right, is playing well, and came from a Championship club where he was already an international.”
Meanwhile, United have announced they will be broadcasting a live ‘beam back’ of April 8th’s visit to Northampton Town. Tickets, priced from £10 adults and £5 concessions, are on sale now via the usual channels.
Operations director Dave McCarthy said: “Beaming back a game is only permitted upon certain criteria being met and we would like to thank the EFL, Northampton Town, South Yorkshire Police and the Safety Advisory Group for assisting us as we provide a service to thousands of Blades fans who want to watch this fixture.”
Gateshead have signed United youngster Jake Wright on loan until the end of the season.