Blades boss Nigel Clough expects Rochdale to be a 'tough proposition' at Spotland on Tuesday night, but knows the importance of three points to his side.
The midweek clash against Dale is one of United's games in hand on their rivals and a win would put the Blades back on the heels of the teams above them.
But Clough has paid tribute to work his Rochdale counterpart has done this season, Dale's first back in League One following promotion last term.
The United boss remarked: "Like Notts County, Rochdale enjoyed a very good start, but it is often very difficult to keep that going throughout a season when you aren't blessed with the biggest of squads.
"That is generally why the clubs with the biggest squads usually last the pace, but when you win promotion, staying in the league above is a success regardless of who you are.
"When they came to Bramall Lane at the beginning of the season, they played with a real freedom and they were one of the better sides we have faced, so you have to give them credit for that.
"They will be a tough proposition on the back of their victory over Chesterfield. Keith Hill has acknowledged they have had to adapt as the season as progressed, but Rochdale also have some very talented youngsters coming through.
"I think we will need another performance similar to what we produced at Notts County, because players like Henderson and Vincenti are as dangerous as anyone else in the division on their day."
Clough added: "We have taken one of their better players, but that is football, when you do well in the cups and have a bit of money to spend in January. Matty Done will be a big miss for them.
"He scores goals in and around the six yard box and that comes through positioning but more often than not desire, it isn't just his goals though Matty's general performances have been excellent."