April 13, 2024

Chris Wilder will “wheel and deal” with the available support he is given from the Sheffield United hierarchy in the January transfer window after admitting that some of the squad he inherited just over a week ago will be deemed surplus to his requirements. Wilder returned to Bramall Lane last Tuesday after Paul Heckingbottom’s sacking and tasted the first win of his second spell on Saturday against Brentford.

That 1-0 victory wasn’t enough to lift United off the bottom of the Premier League but did generate a fresh wave of positivity amongst the fanbase that their side is not dead and buried just yet. The tasks don’t get much easier, though, with trips to Chelsea, Aston Villa and Manchester City to follow this month and sandwiched between a tasty-looking Boxing Day clash at home to fellow strugglers Luton Town.

As well as the challenges that face them on the field, United’s coaching staff could be forgiven for having an eye on the January window, which opens three weeks today. The level of owner Prince Abdullah’s financial support in that period is expected to hinge on the Blades’ position in the table, and whether survival remains a realistic prospect, although he did recently pledge that if United “need to do anything at any time, we will do it” after insisting he and Wilder are on the same page over the January plans.

Wilder has a meeting with the club’s hierarchy this week where he says he will “ask the question” about his level of transfer funds, after hinting that he may look to target young loan players to follow the example of James McAtee and Dean Henderson in recent seasons. Speaking to Talksport, he added: “There are players here that we might have to move on, and players that one manager might like and one manager might think are surplus. So we’ll wheel and deal and try and get people through the door, and some might have to go.

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“But when you talk about Sheffield United and when you come to that ground it’s a historic football ground with a modern feel. Why wouldn’t you? I’ve got McAtee playing for us, we’ve had Dean Henderson playing for us from Man United. So for any young players coming to Bramall Lane, it’s a great education. We had Rammers [Aaron Ramsdale] as well and he went to Arsenal.

“So it’s great for young players. The academy’s doing great work as well. We had some young players out there against Brentford; Andre Brooks, Will Osula, the young boy Sydie Peck who was at Arsenal as a kid and who’s come up north as well. There’s some great work going on in the academy and they’re involved at the moment while we’ve got a few of the big hitters out injured. “So it’s all good and hopefully we can keep going.”

Under Premier League rules United would not be permitted to have more than two loan players from fellow top-flight clubs at any one time so if Wilder is targeting another temporary transfer from one of the league’s top sides it may spell an early return to Leicester for Luke Thomas, the wing-back who was dropped to the bench in Wilder’s first game back and has not featured under him since.

United are also well-stocked in that department, with Max Lowe returning from injury and Rhys Norrington-Davies back in training following his own long absence with a serious hamstring issue. United fielded three left-sided defenders on the bench against Brentford, another loanee in Yasser Larouci completing the trio, while Auston Trusty has played left-back in both Wilder’s games in charge so far.

Elsewhere Benie Traore has played just 385 minutes of Premier League football since his £4m summer move from Swedish side Hacken while Ismaila Coulibaly has made seven appearances for the Blades since he arrived in September 2020 during Wilder’s first spell in charge. “There are ongoing discussions and assessments,” Wilder said.

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“About if we do something, where do we need to strengthen and where we might need to let players go that have not been a part, or not really done enough, or maybe we feel are surplus to requirements going into January. These things are just part and parcel and what every football club are having up and down the country at the minute.”

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