Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has revealed he could sign two centre-forwards in an attempt to turbo-charge his team’s promotion challenge next season, writes James Shield.
But Clough, who saw leading target Chris O’Grady join Brighton and Hove Albion last week, warned he will not be pressured into making a decision United might later live to regret as the clamour for a new striker grows among the League One club’s support.
Confirming several lines of enquiry are also being explored in the loan market, Clough told The Star: “We are definitely looking at trying to bring one (centre-forward) in but there’s always a chance we might do two because it’s not an area where we have huge numbers.
“There are a few things we are looking at and a few situations developing that we are aware of. But it might also be the case that we look to bring someone in from a Premier League or top Championship club on a temporary basis to begin with.”
“When they do their business and bring people in, then opportunities for us to take players at other clubs who might suddenly find themselves being denied a chance open up. You can only carry so many players and, if someone isn’t involved, then you’ll look to get them out because it’s best for all concerned.
“What we won’t do is bring someone in simply for the sake of it. We have to be sure they are right for us.”
With a back problem wrecking plans to field Marc McNulty during last weekend’s Bass Charity Vase defeat by Burton Albion and Chris Porter’s performance hampered after sustaining a nasty blow to the face, Diego De Girolamo could enjoy a prominent role against Northampton Town tonight following an impressive second-half display at the Pirelli Stadium.
But Clough, who was encouraged by the Italy youth international’s contribution, insisted his desire to strengthen United’s attacking options should not be interpreted as a slight on those already at the squad’s disposal.
“It’s just a case of giving ourselves the best possible chance,” he said. “And trying to be ready, or at least as ready as you can be, for every situation that this season could throw at us.
“There are some good players here already and there are players who should view these friendly games as an opportunity to force themselves into contention. To put their hand up and say ‘pick me.’
“That’s what we want to see.”
“It’s not a case of looking for one particular type of player,” Clough continued. “We don’t mind what type of player they are just so long as they are good and the right player for us.”
Nevertheless, despite those words, Clough is thought to have made a centre-forward capable of out muscling defenders and playing with his back to goal as the missing link in an armoury which also contains Jamie Murphy, Jose Baxter and Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
O’Grady, previously of Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, was identified as a realistic option and held talks with United before eventually choosing Brighton instead. Although a transfer fee had effectively been agreed between Bramall Lane’s negotiating team and their counterparts at Oakwell, differences over personal terms prevented the deal from progressing.
“It was disappointing (to see O’Grady join Brighton),” Clough said. “But we’re not beating ourselves up over it because he’s gone to someone a division above.
“If we’d lost out to another League One team then we’d have to take a look at ourselves and decide what we’d done wrong but we didn’t and so we move on.”