Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has confirmed the club will offer new contracts to more of its leading players after reaching agreements with John Fleck and David Brooks in recent weeks.
Despite confirming preliminary talks with at least one member of his squad are already underway, Wilder refused to reveal the identities of those in line for improved deals although it would be a major surprise if defender Jack O’Connell is not among them.
Having already handed captain Billy Sharp, Paul Coutts, Chris Basham and Kieron Freeman fresh terms during the close season, United moved to secure both Fleck and Brooks following their impressive starts to the campaign. Wilder, speaking ahead of Friday’s visit to Leeds, explained the decision underlines his desire to “lay strong foundations” at Bramall Lane.
“We are trying to build, to keep our best players,” Wilder said. “We have done John Fleck, we did other players at the start of pre-season, who we wanted to extend. We have done David Brooks, and there will be more along the way.
“The medium and long-term planning of this football club is really important to me. I have talked to the owners about this, and we want to build, at our way and our pace.”
Speaking last week Wilder, whose side are third in the table ahead of the trip to Elland Road, outlined how United have attempted to streamline their negotiations with players and their representatives.
“We don’t hold a gun to anyone’s head,” he said. “If they want to stop, great. If not, we won’t keep people prisoner.”
Although he has not commented on the matter publicly, the drive is believed to reflect his concern regarding some of the arrangements brokered with players before taking charge in May last year.
“Sometimes there’s casualties, and sometimes things get taken out of your hands,” Wilder said. “We want to keep our best players, but only if they want to stop. Obviously we have to go game by game but, looking at the bigger picture, the power has come back here.”