Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder is confident his players will approach Tuesday’s game at Reading with the right attitude as they bid to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.
The Blades, eighth in the Premier League and challenging for European football next season, will be the favourites at the Madejski Stadium against a Royals side who sit 16th in the Championship.
Wilder’s side overcame opposition from that division in the previous round, winning at Millwall, after beating AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane in round three.
The Blades boss saw his team knocked out of the competition by non-league Barnet last season but believes the players are primed to put in a winning performance in their latest cup outing.
“That was a real low point last year,” said Wilder. “I’m looking at my players and they are at it. I’d be surprised if the attitude isn’t bang on on Tuesday because we drill it into them all the time.
“Attitude. I wanted it at the club since I walked through the door, it’s so important – on and off the pitch. Intensity in training, pre-season games, everything. It’s important we have that mentality running through the club – and it wasn’t when we arrived.
“We tried to change that and our record hasn’t been great in the FA Cup, but we want to be successful in every competition we enter.
“We are away at a Championship club and will be looked at as favourites. It will be a tough tie on the night but what gives me great confidence and comfort is the attitude of the group.
“It has been straightforward full-focus preparation. We’ve not done anything on Norwich yet ahead of Saturday, it has been all regarding Reading.
“I don’t like my team being under-prepared and having a poor attitude. If they want to play at the back end of this season then this is another great chance to cement their position.
“If we get beat and Reading have a great one technically or tactically, then that can happen. But mentally and physically we have to show up.”
Meanwhile, Wilder says progress has been made in contract talks with some of the club’s players.
The Blades, who recently announced that John Fleck had signed a new deal, are also thought to have opened negotiations with the likes of John Lundstram, Enda Stevens and John Egan about extending their stays.
“I believe there has been progress. Discussions between the players’ agents and the club are ongoing,” said Wilder.
“It’s not always a quick process to get over the line, and I respect that the agents and the players want to get the best deal. But I don’t have any feeling that anyone wants to play their football elsewhere. If we did, we would act on that.
“The reason we’ve offered deals is that we want to build on what’s been a tremendous season so far. Offers will go out and hopefully players will commit, as John has done.”