Lane centre-half hunt a matter of experience

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SHEFFIELD United have turned their attention towards signing a new centre-half after capturing Coventry City midfielder Michael Doyle.

Micky Adams, who only took charge of the South Yorkshire club five matches ago, wants to inject more experience into his youthful defence as Bramall Lane’s battle for Championship survival enters a critical phase.

United are understood to have identified a number of possibilities, including Heart of Midlothian’s Ismael Bouzid, but acknowledge the January transfer window is a notoriously difficult time to buy established players.

“That’s the priority now,” a source told The Star last night. “Ideally we want to bring in someone with a number of games under their belt in that position to complement what we’ve already got.

“But this isn’t the easiest time to buy. It can be very difficult to get value for money during this window because, in a lot of cases, the seller immediately puts an extra percentage on the price because time is of the essence.

“But we are working hard to try and do something.”

Twenty-two year-old Argentine Elian Parrino has been the oldest member of United’s back four in recent weeks.

Adams, who signed Joe Mattock of West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa’s Shane Lowry on loan earlier this month, has praised the youngsters’ attitude and application but, with captain Chris Morgan nursing a long-term injury, is keen to draft in a seasoned campaigner, preferably before Tuesday’s visit of Leicester City.

Doyle, who yesterday finalised his much-anticipated move from the Ricoh Arena, is expected to start against Sven Goran Eriksson’s side as United look to claw themselves away from the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, United host Blackpool in the FA Youth Cup fifth round tonight (kick-off 7pm).

Admission is priced £3 for adults but there is no charge for concessions. Tickets are available at the turnstiles while the Platinum Suite opens for drinks at 6pm. United have beaten Cheltenham Town and Millwall in previous rounds.

Coach John Pemberton said: “The luck of the draw has given us another tie at the Lane. We would love to see Blades fans head down here to get behind them in even greater numbers on what is always an exciting night of cup football for the youngsters.

“The more people who come along to back us, the better it’s going to be for our boys.”