Reece Brown enters the final phase of his audition at Sheffield United this week as he attempts to earn a permanent contract at Bramall Lane.
Brown, the former Bury and Barnsley defender, is scheduled to be named in the Professional Development League squad which visits Queens Park Rangers today before Chris Wilder and his coaching staff reach a decision on his future.
The 24-year-old had been set to play an under-23 fixture against Coventry City six days ago but was forced to withdraw through illness. Wilder, the United manager, released fellow trialist Chris Burke following that match but admitted he could not take a view on Brown until “We’ve actually seen him in a real game situation.”
“Reece missed out because he wasn’t well last time but he will play for under-23’s down there,” Wilder explained. “Chris is a really good professional but we won’t be moving that forward as I said last week. We’ll keep looking and maybe get another few in. Reece has impressed us all since coming in and we’ll make a decision possibly at the end of the week.”
Wilder’s assessment of Brown’s performances since being invited to train at the Steelphalt Academy suggest he has already gone a long way towards convincing United he is equipped to compete with Kieron Freeman for a place on the right hand side of their defence. Freeman has impressed since being recalled to the starting eleven but John Brayford’s departure on loan and Wilder’s decision to switch formation means filling the vacancy is now one of his top priorities in the transfer market. Although James Wilson could potentially provide cover, the centre-half is probably not suited to performing a wing-back role. Brown has been without a club since leaving Gigg Lane in June.
Wilder, who could choose to attend this afternoon’s match at the Imperial College Sports Ground if United’s training schedule allows, confirmed another handpicked batch of free agents are set to arrive in South Yorkshire over the coming weeks.
“I don’t want it to be like Piccadilly Circus with players coming in all the time,” he said. “I don’t want a free for all. “I want to make sure numbers are tight but if they can improve the squad, if Reece does that, then they’ll come in. We want to create that tight-knit atmosphere and I think we’re getting there with that now.”