SHEFFIELD United’s players may well be day-dreaming about their impending trip to Wembley but their manager won’t let them doze off at Swindon Town on Saturday.
That’s according to Swindon boss Mark Cooper, who is convinced that Nigel Clough will have his Blades squad fired up for their trip to the County Ground, regardless of the glamorous FA Cup semi-final waiting for them two weeks down the line.
Clough has masterminded an extraordinary cup run which has seen United beat Premier League opposition in the shape of Aston Villa and Fulham, as well as Championship sides Nottingham Forest and Charlton Athletic en route to the last four - and they face Hull City at English football headquarters on April 13 with a place in the final at stake.
Cooper said it was understandable for Clough’s players to let their minds wander in the build-up to that date but he is convinced that the Blades chief will not allow any complacency in his ranks.
“They will have all eyes on Saturday and trying to beat us. If results go the right way for them then they have every chance of making the play-offs,” the Swindon manager told the Advertiser.
“That’s the momentum they’ve got but we have to make sure we stop them on Saturday.
“I think with Peterborough being at Wembley this Sunday, maybe that’s affected their form. You don’t know.
“I know Harry Maguire is suspended on Saturday, the big centre-back, so they’ve obviously looked at that and maybe got that suspension out the way before the FA Cup semi-final.
“I’m sure players subconciously have their eyes on Wembley but, knowing Nigel, he won’t let them take their eye off the ball.”
Cooper is expecting United to play a high-tempo style of football tomorrow afternoon, saying: “When you watch Nigel Clough’s teams play they’re all over you. They never stop. They get men behind the ball, they counter attack and they’ll fight and scrap.
“Jose Baxter is a threat, if he plays. He didn’t play at Crawley but I think the rotated and rested three or four players the other night. He has got Premiership ability and he has scored a few goals.”
The Town boss felt his team enjoyed some rare luck during the 2-1 victory at Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday night, as the hosts struck the frame of the goal twice before Miles Storey scored the winner for the Robins with what looked like a cross that drifted over Rovers keeper Owain Fon Williams.
However, Cooper is not banking on the good fortune hanging around.
He said: “One swallow doesn’t make a summer. That’s one game. Look at us against Wolves - we didn’t have any luck away from home and we should have got a result there, and other places we’ve gone to, played well and not get anything.”