Blades go for Speed

BRYAN Robson is considering an audacious loan move for Gary Speed as he attempts to reverse Sheffield United's poor start to the season.

Robson today pledged to press ahead with his search for midfield reinforcements following his yesterday's capture of Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley.

Robson has made the position top priority as he seeks to address the problems which have contributed to United's difficulties in the league.

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Speed, aged 38, is believed to be among the names under consideration following his decision to resign his coaching position with Bolton Wanderers.

Despite being among the favourites for promotion, Robson's team have struggled to adapt to life in the Championship and will start Saturday's match against Preston North End in 20th position.

Acutely aware of the need to inject a dash of creativity into a squad high on industry but, on current evidence, low on invention, Robson knows he is facing possibly the most important choice of his brief but eventful reign at Bramall Lane.

Despite suffering defeat in his bid to lure Bolton duo Ivan Campo and Stelios to South Yorkshire, the United manager has steadfastly refused to lower the criteria uses to assess would-be recruits.

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While he admits identifying realistic targets has proved to be "problematic", he is growing increasingly confident of making his second breakthrough in the loan market this week.

Having scoured the length and breadth of the country, Robson is now understood to have whittled down the possibilities to three or four names with Manchester United's Darron Gibson and an unnamed Brazilian also believed to feature on his wanted list.

However, Gibson is expected to join Wolves while Newcastle could provide competition for Speed's signature.

"I'm still looking for a midfielder and hopefully something will happen shortly," Robson told The Star. "It's been problematic but I'm pressing ahead because I think that's an area we need to look at and give ourselves more options."

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Robson turned to Bardsley after injuries to Derek Geary and Gary Naysmith caused further disruption to his defence.

The Manchester United full-back, who has previously enjoyed spells at Aston Villa, Rangers, Burnley and Royal Antwerp, is expected to make his debut against Preston after he formally completes his move later this week. "He'll bring us balance where we need it," added

Robson. "Phil has the experience to come in and he's desperate to play."

United captain Chris Morgan and three other members of the first-team squad will be serving pink cocktails to patients at Sheffield's Weston Park Hospital later today as part of the club's support of the hospital's Cancer Appeal and Breast Cancer Research campaign.

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