Sheffield United Digest: Chance for Blades' young stars to nail down a place; Why window has been slow so far; Promotion hero looking towards life after football

Slavisa Jokanovic is willing to reassess his transfer window plans this summer if any of his young stars show they are capable of nailing down a place in his plans for the new campaign.

By Danny Hall
Friday, 16th July 2021, 6:00 am

In a statement designed to place the likes of Zak Brunt, Iliman Ndiaye and Femi Seriki on red alert, the Serb confirmed he will change the recruitment strategy drafted by Bramall Lane’s scouting department should a Steelphalt Academy graduate impress.

An attacking midfielder and centre-half are United’s top priorities at present, as they prepare for August 7’s Championship opener against Birmingham City.

But with Jokanovic also expected to reprofile other areas of the team he inherited earlier this month, the former Yugoslavia international is challenging graduates of United’s Steelphalt Academy youth programme to demonstrate they are better than some of the targets he has identified.

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Acknowledging talks with prospective new signings are still at an early stage, Jokanovic said: “I always check to see how these deals are doing. But, and this is very important to remember, a young player can also come through and change things.” READ MORE HERE

O’Connell heartache could lead to a chance for young star

Two years ago, when Sheffield United were preparing to reacquaint themselves with the Premier League following more than a decade away, Chris Wilder was busy telling anyone who cared to listen about a home-grown player he felt was destined for big things.

The youngster’s name was Rhys Norrington-Davies and, despite still being yet to feature in one of his own starting elevens, the youngster had already impressed Wilder with his performances out on loan.

Slavisa Jokanovic: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

“He’s a natural successor to Jack O’Connell,” the 53-year-old said during one pre-season briefing. “If he gets lured away, then we’ve got a ready made replacement.”

Twenty-four months on, with Wilder long since departed and O’Connell clearly battling to save his career, Norrington-Davies is still waiting to make his United debut. But even though the defender’s preferred position has probably changed, there is a feeling behind the scenes that his time has now come.

With O’Connell forced to undergo yet another procedure to try and repair his damaged knee, a vacancy exists within Slavisa Jokanovic’s squad for an attacking centre-half. And, if United’s new manager perseveres with the 3-5-2 system favoured by his predecessor, then Norrington-Davies appears equipped to fill it. Or at least compete with Jack Robinson for a role on the left-hand side of a reaguard. READ MORE HERE

Double promotion hero training with new club, with one eye on life after football

Mark Duffy, the double Sheffield United promotion hero, is reportedly training with Tranmere Rovers in a bid to prolong his playing career – but has already started planning for the future when he eventually hangs up his boots.

The forward, who turns 36 in October, has been out of the game since leaving Fleetwood Town at the end of last season and reports suggest he is training with Micky Mellon’s League Two side in a bid to earn a deal.

But Duffy, fondly remembered for his legendary goal at Hillsborough to help beat Sheffield Wednesday in 2017, is also planning for the future by taking his coaching badges, as well as investing in property.

Duffy recently underwent his UEFA A License course in Northern Ireland, after previously telling The Star of his desire to move into coaching when his playing career came to an end. READ MORE HERE

James Shield: How some people have betrayed their prejudice towards football fans

You always knew it was going to happen.

By James Shield

After watching folk who wouldn’t know one end of a football pitch from the other masquerading as uber-supporters while England negotiated their way through the Euros, I suspected they’d go back to denigrating us once the tournament was over and so it has proved.

Social media was awash on Sunday evening with blowhards and hand-wringers criticising some of the scenes we witnessed outside Wembley both before and after the Three Lions were stalked and hunted down by an Italy team with few obvious weaknesses.

Yes, they were shameful. But what truly grated, perhaps even more than the result of the match itself, was reading many of them asking ‘What do you expect?’ The inference being that the very same community they were claiming membership of when it suited - fandom - is populated by knuckle dragging thugs.

How do they know those pictured snorting a few lines off the back of their match ticket or trying to storm the stadium’s gates hadn’t also jumped on the bandwagon when it appeared to be turbocharged before quickly leaping off when it ran out of fuel? They don’t.

But the fact these ‘commentators’ simply assume they are betrays their deep-seated prejudice of anyone who grew-up - and I mean grew-up - around the beautiful game. READ MORE HERE

SIX reasons the current transfer window is slower than everyone would like

It won’t have escaped people’s notice but this summer’s transfer market is quieter than Skegness promenade on a windy winter afternoon.

Plenty of deals have been mooted. But precious few completed. And the new season, for Championship sides like Sheffield United is now only three weeks away.

James Shield, one of The Star’s United writers, has spoken to people both at Bramall Lane and beyond to discover why so little is happening during what is usually such a busy time of year… READ MORE HERE

Wolves’ stance on Birmingham City target revealed

Sheffield United’s bid to lure Dion Sanderson to Bramall Lane on a permanent basis may have just taken a hit, with the defender’s parent club intent of loaning him out instead.

The 21-year-old impressed with Sunderland last season, with the Black Cats subsequently launching a £1m bid for his services which was rejected.

Their rivals Newcastle United also reportedly made an offer to sign Sanderson, who emerged as a target for the Blades over the summer after the departure of Phil Jagielka. Kean Bryan’s contract uncertainty, plus a fresh injury blow for Jack O’Connell, has intensified the need for defensive reinforcements.

But The Star understands that, as things stand, Wolves are minded to retain Sanderson’s services, instead loaning him out again to give him valuable first-team experience. READ MORE HERE

Former Blades goalkeeper signs for near neighbours

Josh Chapman, the former Sheffield United goalkeeper, has been backed to challenge Rotherham United’s other stoppers after putting pen to paper on a one-year deal at the New York Stadium.

Chapman, aged 18, was a regular with the Blades’ U18s side last season before being released in the summer. He impressed on trial with the Millers who were cruelly relegated to League One last season, and has signed a deal until 2022 - with the option of another year – to cover the club’s other goalkeepers, Viktor Johansson and Josh Vickers.

"Josh is a promising young goalkeeper who has fitted right in with us since joining training over the last few weeks,” Millers goalkeeping coach Andy Warrington said of Chapman. READ MORE HERE