Football

Safety almost assured, Blades unsheathe European ambitions

Sheffield United, with 39 points on the board, are almost certain to have secured their English Premier League status, but the Blades are hungry for more.

United captain Billy Sharp has backed his fifth-placed side to secure European football, following their 2-1 comeback win over Bournemouth at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

In their first top-flight campaign for 13 years, Chris Wilder's men are looking down on the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal and are within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

"I'm not going to lie, that's us safe now. So that's one achievement ticked off," Sharp told talkSPORT.

"We need to finish as high as we can now... People might not think we can do it (get into Europe), but the boys believe we are capable of it.

"We're just going to keep winning games and give ourselves the best possible chance."

United manager Wilder is also convinced that the Blades can achieve something special this season, after goals from Sharp and substitute John Lundstram cancelled out Callum Wilson's first-half strike.

"We have 39 points, which is fabulous. We want to achieve something this season," said Wilder.

"We won't take our foot off the gas. Our performance was one of belief and drive. There was a real drive about the players after going a goal down."

Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who has had an impressive season, is brimming with confidence and has also targeted European qualification.

Henderson, on loan from Man United, has kept a league-leading nine clean sheets, tied with Liverpool's Alisson and Burnley's Nick Pope.

"The manager demands more from us," said the 22-year-old, who is also looking to become England's No. 1 at the Euros in the summer.

"When we get to 40 points, we're not going to stop... People may think we will be happy and what a great first season in the Premier League.

"But we want to go higher, we want to fight for Europe, we want to get in the Europa League. Why not go for Champions League? Who knows?"

Defeat leaves Bournemouth still just two points above the bottom three, having played a game more than most of their relegation rivals.

"When we get the lead in these types of games, we need to defend better," said Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.

"It takes all the polish off. There were a lot of good bits, but not enough to get a result today and we needed it away from home."

Football