THE first shot appears to have been fired in the battle for Sheffield United’s FA Youth Cup final squad with Fulham failing in a bid to prise Jordan Slew away from Bramall Lane.
Having conceded that many of Danny Wilson’s senior players are destined to depart following their relegation from the Championship last season, ensuring the majority of the academy side which captured the imagination of supporters en route to Old Trafford earlier this month remains intact is United’s number one priority over the coming months.
That prompted them to flatly reject an undisclosed offer, believed to have been tabled on Friday evening, from Craven Cottage before warning Mark Hughes’ side, according to sources, they are not inclined to “do business.”
John Pemberton, who has been responsible for polishing gems such as Harry Maguire and Terry Kennedy, recently urged his charges to resist the temptation of lucrative moves in favour of continuing their education in South Yorkshire.
But, despite that hard-line stance, senior figures behind the scenes privately admit that United’s League One status means some of Pemberton’s protégées could be lured away by the promises of riches elsewhere. Slew, who impressed against United’s namesakes from Manchester seven days ago, appears to be the first whose resolve will be tested after it emerged that Fulham have been keeping tabs on his progress throughout the competition.
United, though, are aware that losing the teenager, who scored twice after making his senior debut towards the end of last term, could further strain the already brittle relationship between sections of the club’s following and its hierarchy.
Hence their recent vow to fight tooth and nail for the best possible deal only if the player concerned indicates they want to pursue a career elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Daniel Bogdanovic has been named in the Malta squad which travels to Greece for Wednesday’s Group F Euro 2012 qualifier.