Chris Wilder thinks Sheffield United are capable of making an immediate return to the Premier League if they are relegated.
The Blades look certainties for the drop having struggled throughout the campaign, after over-achieving with a ninth-placed finished last season on their return to the top flight.
Wilder’s side are currently bottom of the table and 12 points adrift of safety with only 11 matches left to pull off what would be the greatest of escapes.
Should the inevitable happen, Wilder believes the club could bounce back at the first attempt by winning promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.
“That’s the plan, and other clubs have done that,” said the Blades boss. “Burnley are a good example. They beat us in the play-off final, I was there at Wembley, had a year or two in the Premier League, came down and went back up.
“Norwich did that, Newcastle as well, so there is another way to try and establish yourself in the Premier League, without spending hundreds of millions of pounds, which we can’t do, and other clubs have done that.
“I know the players better than anybody, they will want to be here. And they owe it to the football club to be here as well, because we brought them in and gave them the opportunity – and they took it.
“It’s been a disappointing season but the character of the players was key to bringing them in. They understood the situation, they weren’t signing for a top-four club, they weren’t signing for an established Premier League club.
“They were signing for a club where it is an incredible challenge day-in, day-out to play well and stay in this division. They will want to stay and they are under contract anyway.”
Wilder admitted last week he does not know if he will be manager next season, despite confirming he wants to remain in charge at Bramall Lane if the board and owners “stick to the plan”.
The 53-year-old said he feels it is difficult to plan for the 2021/22 campaign because the necessary talks regarding the future “are not happening”.
Asked again about his future ahead of Saturday’s home game against Southampton, Wilder said: “I spoke about it. I should imagine the powers that be understand what was said and that’s as much as I’m going to say about it.
“I was honest and open, as I always will be, regarding my thoughts and feelings on the club and I’ve got nothing more to add. That’s where it’s at from my point of view.”
Meanwhile, Wilder hopes to have Chris Basham and Jayden Bogle back for games against Leicester and Chelsea later this month after confirming that the pair will miss out against against Saints.
With Phil Jagielka joining John Egan on the list of absentees after his red card in the midweek win against Aston Villa, it leaves Wilder contemplating a possible change of shape to utilise Ethan Ampadu and Kean Bryan as central defenders.
“We can be flexible with the shape. Ideally we wouldn’t want to because of the continuity and relative success we’ve had with the system, but if we have to, then we have to,” said Wilder.
“Those two (Basham and Bogle) will be missing, so that’s a situation we’ll have to deal with, and get through. Hopefully they will be in contention for next weekend at Leicester and definitely the last game before the break in the cup at Chelsea.
“Fingers crossed we can get a couple back. It’s been a difficult period but one that we have to adjust and adapt to.”
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