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Why Sheffield United's promotional push depends on Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke

Thursday 1st March 2018

Checking the Championship table right now shows much contrast across the board. Wolves are flying ahead in pole position while Sunderland are bottom, nearly 50 points behind the league-leaders. One team that is currently over-performing is Sheffield United. The Blades are sitting in sixth place and are looking at finishing in a playoff place at least.

United boss Chris Wilder managed to help his side with promotion last season by winning the League One title. This season has been much of a success story and the good times look to be continuing in great fashion. Despite recently topping the table they have drifted down to sixth but remain in positive spirits. Winning three from their last five proves just how their campaign is going.

Two players you will probably recognize in Sheffield United's squad would be Leon Clarke and Billy Sharp. Both strikers have managed 27 goals between them. Sharp has 12 while Clarke has amassed 15 so far. With local boy Sharp scoring a brace against Reading in Sheffield's 3-1 victory on their last outing there is no reason why they cannot push on for a promotion spot. Just one point inside the playoffs the Blades are desperate to make this season a memorable one. Back-to-back promotions could be a possibility and Chris Wilder would be hailed a king if it ever did happen.

Currently, bookies have United at 9/1 to get promoted. They have also offered a 7/4 to reach playoffs while winning the playoffs is priced at 8/1. These odds aren't down as favourites but they show how well in the running Sheffield United are towards promotion or at least playoffs.

Future results will be dependent on Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke's involvement. The duo have formed an unrelenting partnership which has caused much chaos against many other Championship sides. Sharp managed to score more goals than anyone else in League One last season with 30 to his name. Clarke managed just seven but still helped contribute to promotion. Continuing their successful attacking lineup they hunger in wake for more victims on their current success this campaign.

Although there has been a positive striking partnership, Sheffield United's season hasn't all been down to the strikers. Obviously, there are nine other players on the field and Chris Wilder decides who plays and who doesn't. Other players in the squad include Clayton Donaldson, James Wilson, David Brooks, Mark Duffy, Chris Basham and Richard Stearman to name a few. United's squad details the fine balance in experienced players and young, rising talent. With Clarke and Sharp pretty much at their peak, young players such as Brooks and on-loan Wilson keep that drive and passion to succeed. Yes, strikers have produced plentiful upfront but as a team, Chris Wilder's men are a workforce unit.

Winning half their games is a tell-tale sign things are looking up. Although 12 points off automatic places, Blades fans know they can push on in a positive manner taking it one game at a time. Taking on Burton this weekend is crucial as any slip-ups right now could see Sheffield fall out of playoff contention. Dropping possible points is not an option and playing a side such as Burton in 23rd should be a certain win from Chris Wilder's point of view.

This weekend's game would be assured by the appearances of Sharp and Clarke but they will need to carry on the performances if they want a playoff place.

Jamie Kynaston

For my sins, I'm a season ticket holder at Stoke City, I have been proud to watch them for over 20 years. I follow most of the UK leagues and the major European ones too, and I've been told that I talk way too much about football.

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