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Chris Wilder tells his players not to focus on the table as he targets first win

Sheffield United v Manchester City – Premier League – Bramall Lane
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has urged his players not to look at the Premier League table as they try to address their poor start to the season.

The Blades were a revelation last term as they finished ninth on their return to the top flight but, by Wilder’s own admission, the new campaign has not gone to plan so far.

His side have just one point from their first seven matches, with only goal difference keeping them off the bottom of the standings.

In fairness, the fixture list has not been kind to United with three of their last four games being against Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal, and it gets no easier this weekend with a trip to Chelsea before heading into the international break.

Wilder’s team would be bottom of the table when they kick-off at Stamford Bridge on Saturday should Burnley avoid defeat at Brighton the night before, and he said: “It’s difficult not to look at league tables, I understand that, and I’ve tried not to look at it.

“I’ve told the players not to look at it, as they are hurting and they want to win games of football, because it does last for a few months and there’s quite a number of games left for us to change the position of the football club and that’s what we believe we can do.

“We are always worried when we don’t get the result we are after but the confidence levels are OK, they’re not shot.

“If they are shot you’re getting done five at Liverpool and five against Manchester City but anyone who saw those games will see that we could have got something from both of them and we have to go down to Chelsea with that same belief.

“It’s no good moaning about the opposition and the fixture list. I’m consistent with what I say, it’s the reason we want to be in the division. If you’re going to moan and groan about it, maybe don’t win promotion and don’t do well to stay in the division. This is where we all want to be.

“We fought against the odds to get into this division and to stay in this division and we will fight like hell to do that again. Nothing is just going to be given to us.

“We have to keep going and keep believing and I will keep going and keep believing right until the end, whenever that may be, who knows?

“We are all hurting because we feel we can do better than what we are doing and we can affect that going forward, blocking out the noise that comes with playing in the Premier League and concentrating on what we can affect.”

Wilder will have an unchanged squad against Chelsea, although there was some positive news this week on the injury front as midfielder John Fleck (back) and forward Lys Mousset (toe) resumed training.

“We are really good in terms of health, it’s just the usual bumps and bruises from last weekend,” said Wilder.

“It was really good to see John Fleck and Lys Mousset back on the grass this week, that’s a great boost for everybody, me included, to have those two nearing a return to involvement with the first team.

“It (Saturday’s game) is too soon but obviously for the international break we will be working both of them right the way through that period and we will assess them off the back of that.

“John is in a better place than Lys just because of the manner of the injury. But who knows, hopefully fingers crossed both of them will be in better condition than they are now come the back end of the international break and hopefully pushing for a return.”