DANNY Wilson last night acknowledged that addressing an exorbitant wage bill is now the number one priority at Bramall Lane following Nick Blackman’s arrival from Blackburn Rovers, writes James Shield.
Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, yesterday unveiled the 22-year-old centre-forward as his latest summer signing ahead of this afternoon’s Capital One Cup tie against Burton Albion.
Describing the attributes which persuaded United to spend an undisclosed sum luring Blackman away from Ewood Park - “He’s got pace and power” - Wilson hinted the youngster’s presence could hasten the departure of at least two key names.
Richard Cresswell and Nick Montgomery are among those known to boast admirers at both Championship and League One level.
“The wage bill is now paramount,” Wilson said. “We’ll have to trim it and we’ve not made any secret of that.
“But we also needed to beef up the squad because we were short in certain areas.
“We didn’t want to go into a new season without some depth.”
As The Star revealed earlier this week, Scunthorpe have expressed an interest in acquiring Cresswell’s services while Notts County, managed by former United defender Keith Curle, are also understood to be monitoring his situation.
Montgomery is coveted by Blackpool, Burnley, Millwall and Huddersfield Town while Leeds will enter the chase once certain off-the-field issues are resolved.
Charlton Athletic are also known to have held talks with the representative of at least one United player recently.
“As far as I’m aware none of the lads are speaking to anybody although I’m sure some of their agents will be,” Wilson added.
“They are our players and while they remain here they will be utilised if needs be.”
Having already recruited Shaun Miller and John Cofie from Crewe Alexandra and Manchester United respectively, Wilson bolstered his attacking options still further when Blackman put pen to paper on a two-year contract yesterday.
The marksman, who measures 6ft 2in tall, scored 12 goals in less than 30 starts during loan spells with Motherwell and Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League. Wilson confirmed he canvassed the option of Craig Brown, Blackman’s manager at both Fir Park and Pittodrie, before pressing ahead with his bid.
“Yes, we spoke with Craig and I think he would have liked to have kept Nick,” Wilson said.
“He quite clearly thinks an awful lot of the lad.
“Nick really cut his teeth up in Scotland.
“The fact he scored goals for two of the less-fancied teams, outside of the Old Firm, tells you a lot.
“It’s hard and tough up there.”
Wilson, who could decide to hand Blackman his debut against Gary Rowett’s side, added: “Nick’s pace and power will be a real asset for us.
“He’s got lots of potential, a great attitude and a very long career ahead of him.
“You can teach players a lot and improve them but the one thing you can’t give them is pace.
“On top of that, Nick is a very good team player.
“He’ll contribute in all areas and, for him, the group always comes first.”