Sheffield United: Further talks with Aston Villa scheduled as Chris Wilder presses ahead with his bid for Â£9m striker Scott Hogan
Sheffield United are scheduled to hold further talks with Aston Villa this week after receiving encouragement in their pursuit of Scott Hogan.
Chris Wilder, who is also chasing Middlesbrough's Marvin Johnson ahead of Friday's loan deadline, has identified the 26-year-old as his preferred candidate to fill the vacancy for another centre-forward which exists within Bramall Lane's first team squad.
Although reports Tammy Abraham is set to reject a move to Villa Park in favour of remaining at Chelsea could stall the progress of their negotiations, United believe Steve Bruce's interest in the England striker means he is open to the possibility of allowing Hogan to depart in order to accelerate his recovery from injury. A Â£9m signing from Brentford, the former Rochdale and Stocksbridge Park Steels marksman has missed the start of the campaign due to a groin problem but is scheduled to return next month.
"You look at it, the way we play, we want two up the top of the pitch," Wilder, whose side face Villa this weekend, said. "We might play a 10 and a nine but rarely do we play one. So four strikers is key really and hopefully we can bring another one in because at the moment we've got three."
Concerns about Leon Clarke's availability for Saturday's meeting - he failed to appear for the second-half of United's 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers after complaining of a tight hamstring - underline why Wilder is so keen to bolster his attacking options before the end of the month.
Johnson, another confirmed target, can also perform an attacking role and it was perhaps significant United's manager chose to speak publicly about his qualities following the match in Greater Manchester.
Although Hull City are also understood to have made an approach, Wilder continued: "Marvin can play left wing-back, he can play up front wide and he can play centre-forward as well. He can play in a five if we want to go that way. Plus, he's quick and he's left-footed so that brings competition for Enda and the other lads looking to get in there."
United climbed to seventh in the Championship table after dispatching Wanderers at the University of Bolton Stadium, with Mark Duffy, Kieron Freeman and John Fleck writing their names on the scoresheet.
Caolan Lavery, who was ommitted from the travelling party, could be allowed to leave on loan if Hogan and Johnson are signed.
"Hopefully, come Friday, we'll have a decent group in place," Wilder said. "It will be hard to get in the team but we want that competition. We're waiting, as we've spoken about, but we're working hard.
"We'll look at letting people out of the numbers are right for us. We want left footers, right footers and a good balance in there. If it's right, then boys will be allowed out."