DANNY Wilson last night confirmed Sheffield United are locked in talks with Blackpool in an effort to sign Matt Phillips on loan.
Wilson, the United manager, admitted he is “trying” to recruit the England under-20 international in time for Sunday’s Steel City derby with Sheffield Wednesday.
United are also chasing another unnamed target – believed to be Phillips’ team mate Billy Clarke – as Wilson attempts to bolster his squad following an injury to Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
“We are trying,” Wilson said. “Whether we can get Matt in for the weekend I don’t know.
“But we are trying and we’ll have to wait and see.
“We’re hoping to get a couple in actually.
“That’s the idea but nothing is set in stone.
“I’ve been asked about bringing people in before and nothing has happened for one reason or another so we’re taking nothing for granted.”
Wilson was referring to a Football League decision not to sanction a move for Glasgow Rangers duo John Fleck and Kyle Hutton last month despite United’s insistence that only a technological error prevented the paperwork from being completed before the transfer deadline.
Phillips, who scored on his top-flight debut for Blackpool, is blessed with searing pace but has fallen out of the first team picture since Ian Holloway’s side were relegated five months ago.
Sources at Bloomfield Road have told The Star that, with the deal already being agreed in principle, the only thing likely to now prevent Phillips from arriving at Bramall Lane is the player himself.
With the 20-year-old viewed as a ready-made replacement for Mendez-Laing, Clarke could provide competition for strikers Richard Cresswell, Ched Evans and Chris Porter should he also cross the Pennines.
A Republic of Ireland under-21 international, Clarke started his career at Ipswich Town.
Despite the fact that both camps will be able to predict the majority of their respective starting elevens long before kick-off, Wilson nevertheless indulged in the traditional game of bluff and double bluff at his pre-match press conference yesterday.
If, as expected, United recruit Phillips in time for this weekend’s contest, it seems inconceivable that he will not enjoy a prominent role against the visitors from Hillsborough.
With Chris Morgan, Andy Taylor and Johannes Ertl still recovering from long-term injuries, Mendez-Laing is Wilson’s only other absentee after midfielder Nick Montgomery completed the recent Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Rotherham.
Marcus Williams, whose loan from Reading was extended on Monday, has returned to training after suffering a dead leg.
“If we do bring someone in then we’ll have to see if they play,” said Wilson.
“You want them here early to meet the rest of the lads but, at the same time, if they do go straight in then they’ll be going in with no fear.
“We’ll have to see.”