Wilder vows Blades will keep fighting as City's promotion rivals suffer double injury blow
PUBLISHED: 13:38 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:55 17 April 2019
Norwich City’s automatic promotion rivals Sheffield United have been dealt a double injury blow, with confirmation that top scorer Billy Sharp and experienced defender Chris Basham will miss their next two games.
The Blades sit seven points behind the league leading Canaries with four games remaining, after both teams drew at the weekend.
Chris Wilder's team know that defeat at home to Nottingham Forest on Friday lunchtime (12.30pm) will open up the chance for Norwich to seal promotion in the evening, if they beat Sheffield Wednesday at Carrow Road (7.45pm).
That would leave Sheffield United only able to catch local rivals Leeds, who sit second and three points better off ahead of a home clash with lowly Wigan in the afternoon on Good Friday (3pm).
• 12.30pm – Sheff Utd v Nottm Forest
• 3pm – Leeds Utd v Wigan Ath
• 7.45pm – Norwich City v Sheff Weds
However, the Blades will be without 23-goal striker and captain Sharp, as well as Basham, after both went off with hamstring injuries during a 1-1 draw with Millwall on Saturday – in which an injury-time equaliser was conceded at Bramall Lane.
With Wilder also without John Egan for one game after the defender was sent off for deliberate handball against the Lions, he said of Sharp: “He's out for the weekend and so is Bash, so obviously it's disappointing news for myself and the football club, disappointing to lose them.
“During the game Bash early on and Billy after 60 minutes but I've been consistent with my approach throughout the season, people have injuries and suspensions.
“We've got to get on with it, we've got good enough players to do that and they've got to come in and fit in with how we're going to play.”
The Blades then make a trip to Hull on Monday, hoping their automatic promotion hopes are still alive, when the duo are also unlikely to be available.
“We'll assess them after the weekend,” Wilder continued, speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield. “Short term it's that they're not available for the weekend and we'll see how they go on after Monday and into the Ipswich game.
“My time now is to concentrate on the players that hopefully give us an opportunity of getting a big three points on Friday lunchtime.”
Wilder is sure his squad are ready to respond to the disappointment of drawing with Millwall, and drawing 1-1 at Birmingham in the previous game – which has matched City's draws against Reading and Wigan.
“I get that some of our supporters might think that we're done and I'll accept that – I'm not done, the players are not done and we've got to go and show that.
“To gain the respective achievements that we have done in our career, there's a little bit of fight in us and cometh the hour we've got to stand up and show that we're still in this race and I wouldn't be surprised if we get the right result on Friday, against a talented team, a talented manager, a big club in the division and everything that comes with Nottingham Forest.”
• 3pm – Hull City v Sheff Utd
• 3pm – Stoke City v Norwich City
• 5.15pm – Brentford v Leeds Utd
The Blades boss is confident his players are ready to scrap for their promotion hopes, with Wilder having led the club to the League One title in 2017, with several members of that squad still key players.
“First and foremost, they're as disappointed as any supporter,” the boyhood Blades fan said of his players. “They care as much as anybody, as much as me – which we all obviously know through my history.
“There's a lot on the line for them boys as well, personally, individually and collectively, as there is for the most ardent of Sheff United supporters, so those boys care.
“It'll have been a long weekend for them, a difficult one for them, because they want to win, they have won, we haven't been given our position over the last eight and a half months by fluke, we've had to earn everything to get into this position.
“We've had to earn everything that we've achieved over the last two and three quarter seasons to get into this position and we've done it by having a go, by being disappointed when we've not got the result that we've wanted – but by coming roaring back.
“That's what we're going to have to do, especially over this weekend.”