In 11 days, when the emergency loan window closes for the very last time, Nigel Adkins is confident Sheffield United have strategies in place to ensure they are not forced to beg, borrow or steal players when injuries and suspensions strike.
Bramall Lane’s scouting department will continue to identify targets. The manager will still use the transfer market to source and harvest new talent.
But with Football League clubs no longer allowed to reinforce their options during the later stages of a campaign, Adkins acknowledged his staff are devising a framework to help United overcome any potential difficulties caused.
“We’ve known for a while, systemically, this is going to be the last emergency loan window,” he said. “That’s why we want a squad of 20 players, 10 of those being ‘our own’ as it were. The talking points are the here and now, but there is a long-term plan in place.”
Adkins’ decision to select Steelphalt Academy graduates Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ben Whiteman and Graham Kelly in his first-team squad of late is partly designed to reward their impressive performances at League Two and Professional Development League level. But it could also be viewed as a response to English football’s decision to overhaul its transfer system, albeit at the behest of FIFA, later this month.
With the changes likely to place even greater strain on squads already struggling to cope with the physical and financial demands of a 46-game competition, is this the moment when United’s decision to invest so heavily in home-grown talent truly reaps its reward? Adkins, who has made no secret of his admiration for their work at youth level since being appointed last summer, suspects it might be.
“Producing players who have come through our system is central to what I’m trying to do,” he said.