SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades close to keeping McDonald

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SHEFFIELD United will seek indications from midfield pair Lee Williamson and Kevin McDonald about whether they intend to sign new contracts before establishing a warm weather training camp in Malta later this month.

United, who were last night still awaiting permission from their Manchester namesakes to unveil striker John Cofie as Danny Wilson’s first summer signing, offered the duo fresh terms following May’s League One play-off final at Wembley.

Chris Porter, whose deal also expired soon after United’s penalty shoot-out defeat by Huddersfield Town, recently put pen to paper on a guaranteed two year commitment.

Wilson, the South Yorkshire club’s manager, has admitted he is prepared to wait “right until the last moment” to retain the midfielders’ services.

Although negotiations with their representatives are being conducted behind a veil of secrecy, The Star understands that talks with at least one – believed to be McDonald – have gathered pace within the past 48 hours.

The former Scotland under-21 international has confirmed he would “like to come back” to United providing a suitable agreement can be reached.

However, with the start of the 2012/13 campaign only a month away, Wilson would prefer only those members of his squad certain to be available for August 11th’s Capital One Cup tie with Burton Albion to travel to the Mediterranean.

Despite Cofie’s imminent arrival from Old Trafford, United are still keen on increasing the attacking options at Wilson’s disposal

Francois Zoko, previously of Carlisle, is reportedly interested in exploring the possibility of joining the Bramall Lane club.

However, it appears that League One rivals Preston North End remain favourites to capture the Ivorian’s signature with discussions already known to be at an advanced stage.