Boss reveals Sheffield United transfer priority amid Leeds United Cameron Archer “competition”

Boss’s transfer priority ahead of Forest clash
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Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom admits his side needs to recruit more “athleticism” before the end of the transfer window after insisting that he will only sign players if he feels like they can improve the starting XI.

United kicked off their new season with defeat at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, with four academy graduates on the bench and two Premier League debutants in Benie Traore and Will Osula up front. Palace were better value for their victory than the 1-0 scoreline suggested, with United’s only shot on target an Ollie Norwood shot from long range comfortably saved by Sam Johnstone.

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Boss Heckingbottom is desperate for further reinforcements ahead of this Friday’s trip to Nottingham Forest, with Manchester City’s Tommy Doyle a confirmed target after his loan spell at Bramall Lane last season. Striker Cameron Archer is also a player of interest, with Aston Villa open to the possibility of letting him leave again, with Leeds heavily linked in reports over in West Yorkshire as they look for a striker to spearhead their bid to return to the top flight at the first time of asking.

“In the Premier League, there’s athleticism all over. We know that,” Heckingbottom said. “We want to recruit that. We have done in certain positions and we want more of it. We need to. That’s the aim, that’s the goal. We know we’ve lost players either the loans or the sales and I think it’s going to be key.

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“Three of our next five are at home and every time we’re not as strongest as we can possibly be, it’s a missed opportunity. I would love to have the players in ages ago, but it’ll take as long as it takes.”

United have brought in six new faces this summer, with Coventry City’s Gus Hamer joining Anis Slimane, Yasser Larouci, Benie Traore, Vinicius Souza and Auston Trusty at Bramall Lane on the eve of the Palace opener. United, who sold Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge in the build-up to the new season, are still without forwards Oli McBurnie, Rhian Brewster and Daniel Jebbison due to injury, with teenagers Andre Brooks and Antwoine Hackford coming off the bench against Palace.

With a talented crop of youngsters pushing those in the first team - Femi Seriki and Louie Marsh also named amongst the substitutes against Roy Hodgson’s side - Heckingbottom is wary of not blocking their pathway for the sake of making signings.

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“We’ve got one or two injuries and we need players who are going to impact the XI,” he added. “Whether it’s three, four or five or however many we can bring in. If I can’t see them impacting the XI now I’m probably not going to sign them, because we have the young boys.

“Everyone knows our market; we’re not going to be signing readymade Premier League players. We’re signing players who want to make the step up and we think can make the step up. We’ve just sold two really good players for a lot of money. We’ve been told we have that to spend and we’re intent on spending it to improve the team.

“We need more firepower at the top end of the pitch ... all I’m expecting now is for us to get better, with improvements and returning players and new players settling in.”

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