Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has promised every member of the squad he inherited from predecessor David Weir will be granted opportunities to cement a place in his team, wries James Shield.
Clough acknowledged he could be tempted to enter the transfer market during the January window after taking charge at Bramall Lane last month.
Simon Lappin, the Cardiff City midfielder, is expected to join United on a permanent basis after recently extending his loan agreement with the League One club while the long-term futures of Conor Coady and Aidy White are also scheduled to be reviewed.
But Clough, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against Gillingham, insisted no firm decisions will be made until everyone presently at United’s disposal has been assessed.
“We want to take a look at everyone,” he told The Star. “Everyone will be given the chance to show what they can do.
“Whatever form that takes, be it during first team games, training ground matches or the reserves, they are all going to get a chance and that’s only right for a number of different reasons. Not least because we want to see what they can all do.”
“We’ve named very strong teams in the under-21 league recently and that’s all part of that thinking,” Clough added. “People have impressed us in those and given us food for thought.”
“It’s also why we are trying to get as many young professionals also involved in first-team training sessions. We want to find out exactly what we’ve got here and how we can best use it.”
White is expected to return to action when Peter Taylor’s side visit United after parent club Leeds refused permission for him to feature in last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Colchester. Fellow loanee Coady did feature at the Weston Homes Community Stadium after Liverpool gave Clough the green light to select the England under-20 captain.
Taylor is poised to award Craig Fagan his Gillingham debut after signing the former Derby County and Hull City centre-forward three days ago. The two men worked together at the KC Stadium.
Elliott Hewitt, a teenage defender from Ipswich Town, and John Mousinho, the Preston North End midfielder, have also arrived at Priestfield on loan as Taylor looks to claw United’s opponents away from the relegation zone.
Hewitt, who represents Wales at under-21 level, started his career at Macclesfield before joining Town last year.