Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has warned his star players that no-one’s place is safe as he looks to turn around his side’s poor start to the League One campaign.
Wilder faces one of his former sides, Oxford United, this afternoon with his current employers bottom of the table and without a win since he took charge in May.
Skipper Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke, Wilder’s preferred strikeforce, have flattered to deceive so far as a partnership and George Long could explore opportunities away from Bramall Lane after losing the No.1 spot to Simon Moore.
And Wilder, who allowed John Brayford to join Burton Albion on loan just over a week ago, said: “We haven’t got enough shots off or worked the opposition goalkeeper hard enough, even though we’ve got into some good areas.
“If the players on the fringes of the team are seeing that, then they should be seeing opportunities. To register just one point from 12 is not good enough for me, for the players or for the football club and it’s up to me to pick the right team.
“But no-one is untouchable or undroppable, especially after the start we’ve had.”
Sharp was withdrawn after 65 minutes of United’s late defeat at Millwall last weekend, while Clarke was a doubt for the trip to The Den before declaring himself fit before kick-off.
Marc McNulty, who was under consideration for a start against Oxford, damaged a hamstring in training and could miss “a couple of weeks”, according to Wilder.
The Blades boss also remains in the hunt for a new centre-half.
Millwall turned down a bid for Byron Webster recently, insisting he is not for sale at any price, and a deal for former Rotherham United and current Wigan defender Craig Morgan collapsed over personal terms.
United are understood to have shown interest in Leeds United midfielder Luke Murphy, who is on the fringes at Elland Road.
Caolan Lavery, the former Sheffield Wednesday forward, is another target - although a move for the Northern Ireland youth international is complicated by the need to agree a compensation package with the Owls.
Lavery was released by Wednesday at the end of last season but, because he’s under 24, United’s Steel City rivals are due compensation.
“I’m looking for pace at the top of the pitch,” Wilder confirmed, “and he offers that.
“But it’s not an easy situation. We’re comfortable with how we’re going about our business, and think we’ll get there in the end.”