Nigel Clough has warned Sheffield United can not afford a repeat of last summer’s transfer saga which saw Harry Maguire, their influential defender, depart only 11 days before the start of the League One season, writes James Shield.
Clough made the admission after describing the forthcoming window, which officially opens on July 1, as pivotal to United’s hopes of bouncing back from their play-off semi-final defeat by Swindon Town.
With a new centre-half featuring at the top of his wanted list, Clough said: “We don’t want the lads we’ve got here now to go.
“You can never tell for sure because you don’t know if someone is going to come in with silly money.
“But no, we don’t want that to happen. We’re trying to build and build on what we’ve got.
“What happened with Harry was dictated by him saying he wanted to go. That made it difficult.
“Okay maybe, with hindsight, we should have said you’re not going and you’re going to be unhappy for a few weeks but get on with it. But you just never know how someone is going to react to that.”
Maguire joined Hull City for a fee potentially worth £2.5m 10 months ago after progressing through the ranks at Bramall Lane. He represented United 166 times but failed to command a regular place in the Premier League club’s squad and later moved to Wigan Athletic on loan.
Although Clough has refused to divulge the identities of his targets, The Star understands Shaun Barker will be invited to train with United when they begin preparing for the 2015/16 campaign. However the 32-year-old is not thought to be viewed as a regular starter by Clough who is focusing his search on proven, tried and tested performers.
Steven Davies, previously of Blackpool, and Brighton and Hove Albion’s Chris O’Grady are among those being considered for the attacking vacancy which exists alongside Marc McNulty and Matt Done.
“We’re in a much better position squad wise than we were,” Clough said. “So we want to keep getting stronger.”
Meanwhile, Matlock Town have confirmed United will visit the Autoworld Arena for a friendly on Tuesday 28 July (kick-off 7.45pm).
Jamie McDonagh, Otis Khan and Julian Banton all enjoyed spells on loan with Mark Hume’s side before having their United contracts extended when Clough’s retained and released list was published last week.
“Everyone at Matlock is delighted for the lads,” Tom Wright, the Matlock chairman, said. “And we’d like to thank Sheffield United for the help they gave us and hope the great relationship we’ve established with them will continue to prosper.
“This is really good news for Jamie, Otis and Julian who were magnificent for us last season and played a massive part in us staying up.”