Blades: Sheffield United strikers told to shine or be shelved

He's back: Danny Philliskirk has rejoined United on a free transfer.
He's back: Danny Philliskirk has rejoined United on a free transfer.
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AUDITIONS to fill Darius Henderson’s shoes are well under way at Bramall Lane.

Players reported back for pre-season training on Thursday and Sheffield United’s new-look backroom staff are putting them through their paces in preparation for the 2011/12 campaign.

Nonetheless, Blades boss Danny Wilson bolstered his forward line by signing free agent Danny Philliskirk yesterday. It is Wilson’s second piece of business in the transfer market since succeeding Micky Adams but the ex-Northern Ireland international has reassured his strikers he will give them all the chance to stake their claims for first-team places.

United averaged less than one goal per match last term as they slipped out of the Championship. It is a poor record Wilson is keen to rectify to turn the club into genuine promotion candidates.

Wilson has stressed he will assess the options at his disposal before contemplating bringing in new blood.

“We have to be fair and honest with the players who are already here,” he told The Star. “That is the only way we can do it.

“I’m sure there are a few players who are frustrated from last year who didn’t play so this will be an opportunity for them to show me what they can do. But by the time the first game come along, sentiment goes out of the window because we are there to win games.

“If we feel we have got the players within the club to achieve our goals then fantastic. If we feel we have to tweak it in a couple of areas then we will do that.”

Wilson is under no illusions that he has to reduce the size of the club’s wage bill. That is why United’s board of directors had no choice but to let Henderson join Millwall earlier this week.

“We are still in a position where costs have to be cut,” he said. “There is still a long way to go with that but Darius’s departure does give us a bit of space to manoeuvre.”

Wilson’s resources could be further stretched up front should Ched Evans and Jordan Slew leave this summer. Welsh international Evans has been linked with Cardiff and Leicester while Slew remains on Fulham’s radar.

New recruit Philliskirk will be aiming make the step up after agreeing a one-year contract at United. The 20-year-old, the son of former Blades favourite Tony, made three appearances in a loan spell at United last term. He also claimed five goals in six appearances in the second-string side.