MARC Pugh believes Cherries are facing a tense battle for League One promotion but he insists they have the character to handle the pressure.

The Cherries star is predicting that the race for honours will go the distance as a number of clubs fight for the right to play Championship football.

Pugh, 25, has once again emerged as a leading performer for Cherries this season during the Dorset outfit’s rise into the upper echelons of the table.

Cherries, who were knocked off top spot by Swindon in midweek, are one of seven teams separated by just four points in the push for promotion.

Eddie Howe’s men are entering a potentially crucial period with tomorrow’s home clash against Sheffield United (3pm) coming ahead of meetings with Coventry, Orient and Doncaster.

Pugh is confident Cherries have the personnel and quality to keep their cool. The Lancastrian told the Daily Echo: “It is unbelievable and probably one of the closest (promotion races) I have ever seen.

“A couple of teams have games in hand on us but I would sooner have the points on the board.

“It is just so tight and I think it is one of those seasons that is going to go down to the wire.

“Usually, the top team or, maybe, the top two pull away but everyone seems to be beating everyone and, if that carries on, it is going to be a tense finish. Hopefully, we can put together a good run and be one of the teams who can try to pull away from the pack.

“We have got a lot of good characters in the dressing room with a lot of experience, along with a lot of young lads who want to be successful.

“We have got a good mix and a good bunch and I believe it will, hopefully, bring us success at the end of the season.”

In 34 appearances this season, Pugh has netted eight goals while also chipping in with seven assists from the left flank.

He endured a rare day to forget during the defeat at Preston last time out as he was substituted on 31 minutes as he still felt the effects of illness.

But Pugh, who is aiming to be fully fit in time to face the Blades, added: “It is probably one of the biggest games of the season so far.

“We need to go into it full of confidence. We have been superb at home recently so, hopefully, we can continue our fine run of form.

“On our home patch, we have been absolutely superb and we will make it a really tough game for Sheffield United.

“They are a big club going into this game and there is probably even more expectancy of them to get promoted than us this season. Hopefully, we can play our natural game and cause them lots of problems.”