Sheffield United: Blades target won’t be sold on cheap, says rival boss

Stefan Scougall of Sheffield Utd tackled by Ryan Leonard of Southend Utd
Stefan Scougall of Sheffield Utd tackled by Ryan Leonard of Southend Utd
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Ryan Leonard, the reported Sheffield United target, will not be sold on the cheap this summer, Southend United boss Phil Brown has warned.

Leonard, winner of Southend’s player of the year award for the last two seasons, has only one year left on his contract at Roots Hall and a bid from a Championship club, understood to be United, was rejected yesterday by chairman Ron Martin.

Joe Riley of Sheffield Utd on action with Stuart Sinclair of Bristol Rovers

Joe Riley of Sheffield Utd on action with Stuart Sinclair of Bristol Rovers

And Brown said: “We’ve had a bid for Lenny now but the chairman has rejected it and it does not come close to matching our valuation, even if he is in the final year of his contract.

“We’re offering Ryan an improved deal and we want him to stay because of how important he is to the team and what we want to achieve here next season.”

Leonard, aged 24, has made over 230 appearances for Southend since joining them in 2011 from Plymouth.

Meanwhile Joe Riley, the former United loanee, has targeted a return to fitness in pre-season - with Blades boss Chris Wilder contemplating another loan swoop for the Manchester United youngster.

Riley’s temporary stay in South Yorkshire was cut short early last season after the 20-year-old injured his shoulder in a freak training ground accident, when he collided with a fence.

Wilder was impressed by Riley’s attitude and ability during his spell at United, and admits he could go back in for the youngster, who said: “In my head, I’m aiming for pre-season.

“I’m happy with the progress I’ve made with my shoulder and hopefully, by next season, I’ll be flying and ready to go. I think I’m trying to take positives from it all.

“I had a great time there and it would have been good to be part of that league win and promotion but I’m pleased for everyone at United and still feel a part of what they went through.

“It was good to go down there and I think I learned a lot while I was there.”