Sheffield United are seeking further talks with Aston Villa's Scott Hogan and his fellow centre-forward Sam Gallagher after Chris Wilder, who has welcomed the return of Steve Bettis to Bramall Lane, confirmed he is targeting "top end" Championship talent during this summer's transfer window.
Wilder, whose squad arrived in Portugal last night ahead of Thursday's friendly against Maritimo, has expressed an interest in signing both Hogan and Gallagher, Southampton's promising young striker, as part of a plan designed to boost United's attacking options.
Although the financial complexity of the proposed deals means progress has been slow so far, Wilder insisted United are confident of making a breakthrough in their search for fresh firepower shortly. Bettis' imminent appointment as chief operating officer - he served as chief executive until June last year - should, according to Wilder, enable United to accelerate the process.
"We've got two or three bids in for players, players who make us better," Wilder said. "Players of proven Championship experience and above, they take longer to get in because the numbers are greater and the interest is greater."
Asked specifically about Hogan and Gallagher, Wilder added: "There's a lot of good players out there. So are we in for players who have played at the top end of the Championship? Yes we are. It's not a revolution, it's evolution. We want to our good players to see other good players come into the building. I'm sure, over the next few weeks, you'll see it really ramp up."
Bettis, who is expected to be officially confirmed in post later this week, is set to act as a conduit between Wilder and United's co-owners Kevin McCabe and HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The Star revealed last month that Bettis was Wilder's preferred option to take up the role and, after arriving back in England following a spell in North America, he watched Friday night's victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels at the Look Local Stadium. One of Bettis' first tasks will be to communicate how much of the initial £12m United received from AFC Bournemouth for Wales international David Brooks will be made available for recruitment.
"I am in discussions with the club via Steve Bettis who has come back as COO," Wilder said. "I'm delighted with that. It was something I spoke with the board about. He's not in it for anything else other than this club being successful. I'm delighted he's back. I think this club will run more efficiently with him here and it's on a better footing. I had a great relationship with Steve last time. He stepped out for a year but he's back now."