Sheffield United are poised to unveil Kieron Freeman as their latest new signing after the defender was told he is surplus to requirements at Derby County.
Although sources close to the iPro Stadium yesterday described reports that a fee has been agreed for the 22-year-old as “premature”, they acknowledged Freeman wants to return to South Yorkshire on a permanent basis following talks between representatives of the respective clubs.
Nigel Clough, whose squad continued its preparations for the new campaign with a friendly against Huddersfield Town last night, revealed earlier this week that he would strengthen the defensive options at his disposal after Harry Maguire was unveiled as a Hull City player hours before Adam Hammill’s 78th minute goal settled an entertaining contest.
As The Star reported nearly two months ago, Freeman has featured on Clough’s wanted-list since impressing during at a spell on loan at United earlier this year.
The full-back, who started his career at Nottingham Forest before joining County two seasons ago, has also represented Mansfield Town and Notts County.
Despite leading his team from 21st to seventh in the table last season and into the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Clough has embarked upon a major overhaul of the League One club’s squad this summer with Andy Butler, Chris Basham and Craig Alcock among those to arrive at Bramall Lane.
Nevertheless, United went about their business in impressively fluid fashion against Mark Robins’ side with Jamie Murphy and Jose Baxter combining well before Basham went close with a glancing header.
United, who later withdrew Stefan Scougall after he fell victim to a heavy challenge during the early skirmishes of the second-half, came under pressure as the interval beckoned with Sean Scannell emerging as a threat.
Neill Collins and Butler both made fine blocks to deny the former Crystal Palace winger while Mark Howard scrambled away a close range attempt to Nahki Wells.
Ollie Norwood flashed a powerful effort just wide as Huddersfield began to find their rhythm and, having seen Scannell again test United’s back four, Clough introduced Chris Porter and Marc McNulty in a bid to regain the momentum.
The two substitutes made an immediate impression when Porter escaped his marker and whipped a low centre across the box but agonisingly beyond his colleague’s outstretched foot.
Alcock, delivering another energetic display along United’s right flank, nearly caught Joe Murphy, the Huddersfield goalkeeper, unawares as Clough’s charges re-established their grip on proceedings.
That was until Hammill profited from Radoslaw Majewski’s invention by poking in from the edge of the six yard box.
Majewski, signed on loan from Nottingham Forest, continued to make his present felt and went close to doubling Huddersfield’s advantage as the pendulum again swung back in their favour.
Norwood also tried his luck during the closing stages but could not prevent the ball from flying over Howard’s crossbar.