Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins has dropped the clearest hint yet he will attempt to sign Dean Hammond when his loan from Leicester City expires.
Despite insisting talks about the midfielder’s future would be put on hold until the end of the season, Adkins is known to have already drawn-up a list of potential targets as he plots a major overhaul of Bramall Lane’s first-team squad.
After describing Hammond as a pivotal figure in the new formation he believes can help save United’s dream of winning promotion this season, Adkins has made it plain he wants to keep the 33-year-old at the club next term.
“If you talk about doing the basics well, how well does Dean Hammond do them? He does all the horrible things people don’t want to see,” Adkins told The Star. “He does all the donkey work but he also sprays some good passes around the pitch.
“Dean gives people like Ben (Whiteman) and Ryan (Flynn) the opportunity to get forward and support the wing backs.”
Hammond has made 25 appearances since joining United in October and, after entering the final four months of his contract with the Premier League leaders, is expected to be available on a free transfer this summer. Nevertheless, despite his close working relationship with Adkins, United could find it difficult to tempt him north on a permanent basis unless they are competing at Championship level next term.
“We didn’t realise Dean was sick all the way through the first half of our last game (against Oldham),” Adkins said. “He saw the medic at half-time but he carried on and that tells you a lot about him.”