Fewer loan players aids Blades push

Stay focused: Neill Collins tells players not to rest on their laurels
Stay focused: Neill Collins tells players not to rest on their laurels
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SCOTTISH centre-back Neill Collins claims promotion hopefuls Sheffield United are benefiting from not relying too heavily on the loan market.

Following relegation from the Championship to League One in May, plc chairman Kevin McCabe acknowledged the club recruited too many expensive loan signings and players on short term contracts last year.

But, since Danny Wilson’s arrival at Bramall Lane, United have brought in just one temporary transfer; winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing from Wolves.

Collins, who moved to United in January from Yorkshire neighbours Leeds United for an undisclosed fee, refuses to solely blame the loan culture for United dropping out of the second tier of English football and insisted: “That wasn’t the only problem. There were other factors. But from a players point of view, it is good to know everyone is committed to getting this team out of this division. Having too many (loan players) is not ideal because no one has got any identity. They don’t know whether they are going to be playing for the club long term.

“As much as loan players do come in and be professional, they know they are going to go back to their parent club.

“Sometimes you get loan players who come in and contribute but you can’t rely on that.

“You need a core group who are part of the club and are going to be there for two to three years.”

In the opening four outings, Wilson has resisted the temptation to change his backline, selecting Matt Lowton at right-back, Lecsinel Jean-Francois on the opposite flank while Harry Maguire has partnered Collins at the heart of the defence.

And although United shipped in two goals in midweek against Walsall, Wilson’s men chalked up their third league win on the trot following a superb second-half comeback. Two goals down after 51 minutes, Lowton, substitute Lee Williamson and Richard Cresswell, from the penalty spot, completed the remarkable turn around. It is the first time since 1983 United have recorded three straight victories at the start of a season.

Following their stunning fightback against the Saddlers, United are joint top of the embryonic League One table along with Charlton but Collins is refusing to get carried away by the team’s bright start.

“It is tough this league,” he said. “There will be defeats and disappointments but it is about bouncing back from them and going on long unbeaten runs. We are pleased with how we have started. We are quietly confident because we have managed to keep a lot of players at the club so far. The important thing is to put runs of wins together.”