Sheffield United: Paul Heckingbottom hopes exits signal the start of a transfer talent drive at Bramall Lane

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom hopes to make a breakthrough in the transfer market shortly, after beginning the task of reprofiling Bramall Lane’s first team squad.

Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 5:00 am

After sanctioning Regan Slater’s move to Hull City, United officials also granted Oliver Burke permission to join Millwall on loan until the end of the campaign.

Speaking ahead of today’s match against Luton Town - two months after his team’s last home appearance - Heckingbottom confirmed United have made a centre-half and a goalkeeper their top priorities during this month’s window.

With Robin Olsen departing for Aston Villa on Tuesday, despite originally agreeing a season long switch from AS Roma last summer, the 44-year-old hopes the savings United are set to make on wages will enable him to step up the search for new talent.

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Paul Heckingbottom is looking forward to being back at Bramall Lane following a two month absence: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Although Heckingbottom will enter this afternoon’s meeting without the reinforcements he believes are necessary to give United the best possible chance of reaching the play-offs, he still believes the game will be a celebratory occasion.

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Sheffield United: Oliver Burke completes move to Millwall

“It’s been too long,” he said, bemoaning the number of Covid-19 related postponements in the Championship over the festive period. “We are desperate to get back there and we hope the fans will be feeling the same way too.”

“We want a real front foot performance,” Heckingbottom added. “But we know this is going to be tough because they (Luton) have some really good players and are well organised.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom is hopeful of making a breakthrough in the transfer market: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Slater, a lifelong United supporter, underwent a medical at the MKM Stadium yesterday after they agreed a fee with City for his services. Aged 22, he helped Grant McCann’s side win promotion from League One last term and is set to become their first new signing of the Acun Ilicali era, after the Turkish businessman and media personality completed his takeover of City on Wednesday.

Aged 24, Burke arrived at United a year-and-a-half ago as part of a deal which saw Callum Robinson head to his former club West Bromwich Albion. Burke also completed spells with Nottingham Forest, RB Leipzig, Celtic and Alaves before travelling to The Hawthorns.

Despite failing to command a regular place in United’s starting eleven this term, Burke had also attracted interest from Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers - although the latter’s eventually cooled.

Oliver Burke has left Sheffield United on loan, joining Millwall: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Having told Wes Foderingham he has “earned the right” to continue between the posts after stepping in for the injured Olsen earlier this season, Heckingbottom still wants to recruit an experienced number two to “compete” with the former Rangers man. Jake Eastwood is set to deputise for Foderingham against Town.

Both James Hill and John Souttar came under United’s microscope earlier this month as Heckingbottom, whose search for new faces is being spearheaded by in-house recruitment experts Paul Mitchell and Jared Dublin, looks to bolster his defensive options. A number of possibilities are known to have been identified, although Heckingbottom confessed following Tuesday’s draw at Preston North End that he is unsure exactly how much funding has been placed at his disposal.

“We’re doing lots of work,” Heckingbottom said. “We’re looking and we’re still hopeful of being able to do something with one of those.”

Regan Slater is bound for Hull City: Andrew Yates /Sportimage