Football

Wilder wants Sheffield United to reel in top-four rivals

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder challenged his team to catch up with their rivals for an English Premier League top-four spot, as they approach the final stretch of the season.

The Blades are sixth with 39 points from 26 games, two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and one adrift of Tottenham Hotspur.

Qualifying for the Champions League would be a significant achievement for a side who won promotion to the top flight last year but Wilder, whose initial target was Premier League survival, said on Thursday (Feb 20) there was still work to do with 12 games left.

“Of course, people will talk about looking up and I want us to look up, I want us to go and reel in the teams above us,” Wilder told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s league match against Brighton & Hove Albion.

“I can’t go into a team meeting and just say ‘let’s be careful of staying out the bottom three’. It’s an extremely competitive league and we’re proud of our position at the moment.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to get into that position. We’ve done a lot of things right and we’re going to have to do a lot of things right between now and the end of the season.

“We need the bounce of the ball, to stay clear of big injuries.”

Brighton are in 15th spot and without a win since late December, but Wilder knows the south coast club will be difficult opponents.

“We have to be careful with our supporters looking at our position and Brighton’s position and thinking it’s something that it’s not,” he said.

“Brighton are an extremely tough opposition, they’re a well drilled, established side. It’ll be as tough as it gets.”  – REUTERS

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