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Question Time - Kieran Dowell

20 February 2019

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Kieran Dowell was the main focus of 'Question Time' in UTB - United's ever popular matchday programme - for the recent fixture against Reading.

The Everton loanee adorned the cover against the Royals and discussed a number of topics including how two former Blades played a part in his move to the Lane.

Kieran Dowell is aiming for the top with the Blades, as United look for a sixth straight home league maximum against Reading this afternoon.

Speaking exclusively to UTB's Mark Woollas, the Everton loanee is optimistic Chris Wilder's side have what it takes to last the pace in the fast-developing race for promotion.

And the England U21s international is keen to continue to play an active part in the success.

UTB: Life as a Blade must feel pretty good at the moment?
KD: I've definitely settled in now, it's feels like I've been here for months and I mean that in a positive way. The lads have been fantastic, it's a really good group and the togetherness is a big reason behind why we are doing so well.
Everyone is British or Irish, which is different, I bet there aren't many squads like that across the country, if any, and I see that as a positive, everyone is on the same page from very early on. There are a lot of good senior pros, they manage the dressing room when the gaffer isn't about and there is leadership from the players too, not just from the management.

UTB: Following the midweek success over Middlesbrough that's five consecutive home victories in the league since you signed, how impressed have you been?
KD: When I came, we'd just had a little blip, but since then we've been excellent, we've only lost against Swansea and we've been very good at home. It's a cliché, but our home form is going to be massive, if we win the majority of those, we'll have a right chance, at the worst we'd be in the play-offs, but we go out to win every game, home or away.

UTB: Would it be fair to say your spell at Nottingham Forest last season ensured you hit the ground running here?
KD: I enjoyed my time at Forest, I started off on the bench, but gradually clocked up the games and scored quite a few goals. It certainly has helped me, though, when I came here I knew what the division was about which has meant I've been able to focus on learning how this team plays and not worry too much about who we're playing against. We're a confident bunch, without being arrogant, and it certainly aids my natural game.

UTB: The manager speaks openly about having different attacking options within the squad, is the rotation in those areas something the players understand?
KD: At the top of the pitch, it's high-energy and you need to be fresh. The manager is always emphasising about having different options, combinations and systems for any scenario and we've certainly got that now. We've got the luxury of having strikers and forwards who can all offer something a bit different to the next one and it just gives you those extra chances. The gaffer has made it clear that he will mix things up and sometimes you might have to change a game off the bench, but I'm just happy to be contributing to the success of the team.

UTB: How have you found adapting to a pretty unique style of play in the last six weeks or so?
KD: When we are on it, and we almost always are, we can be unplayable. Teams can't cope with us, Villa couldn't, and it took a freak 10 minutes or so to deny us. We believe in how we play, we know how to get the maximum out of how the gaffer sets us up and we know we've got some fantastic options from the bench to change the game if necessary. The division is pretty even right the way through and quite a few teams will have ambitions to win the league or achieve automatic promotion.

UTB: You completed your first 90 minutes on Wednesday night, that must have been pleasing?
KD: I've had to build up my match fitness. It's definitely underestimated when you aren't playing regularly in the first-team. I played a couple of times for Everton in the early weeks of the season, but since then I've only been playing in the reserves and for England U21s, which is obviously broken up throughout the season. You need a run of games, I was cramping up against Barnet, I was blowing at Norwich, but at Villa I felt much stronger as the game progressed, and my running stats were really pleasing.

UTB: How were the legs after the Middlesbrough game, as you certainly put a shift in down the left?
KD: It was an interesting experience, obviously it's the first time I've ever played in that position. It was tough, but the lads are used to playing this system and they talked me through it early on. We got the win, which was crucial, it was a different type of game playing there than in my normal role, there were a lot of short sprints up and down the wing and I was leggy towards the end. I got through it, though, I found my second, third and fourth wind.

UTB: How important was the fans backing in the midweek success?
KD: It was a deserved win, a hard-fought one, but we were always shading it and Middlesbrough were there for the taking. We had a couple of injuries that unsettled us a bit first half, second half we were confident and positive, we went for it and got our rewards. The fans have been brilliant, I love playing at home and I can't wait for Saturday, we'll continue to focus on ourselves and see where it takes us after the weekend.

UTB: How much did a couple of former Blades and current Toffees have on your switch to the Lane?
KD: Before I came, I spoke a lot with Dom (Calvert-Lewin) and also Phil Jagielka, both know this club inside out and I still speak nearly every day with Dom. I spoke to him about the city, the club and he spoke really highly of both, I've been through quite a lot with him in a relatively short time. Jags had a bit more to say, he's been a two-club man with Sheffield United and Everton and he still speaks fondly about the Blades, so that helped.

UTB: 14 games to go, third in the table, it is promising to be an exciting end to the season?
KD: The aim is promotion, we can't hide away from it. We want automatic promotion, we'd love to win the league and I honestly feel we've got a chance of doing it with the players we've got here. We won't get carried away, the manager won't let us, but honestly, we've nothing to fear. We proved ourselves at Villa and hopefully the lesson we learnt there won't happen again and hurt us later on in the season.

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