Sheffield United: As the transfer window prepares to swing open, this is where The Blades want to strengthen

As the battle for control of Sheffield United continues to gather pace, Chris Wilder will be glad of something to distract him from events at the High Court.

Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 3:13 pm
Chris Wilder, the manager of Sheffield United: James Wilson/Sportimage

It comes in the shape of the latest transfer window, which re-opens for domestic transactions tomorrow, and marks the start of his bid to ensure Bramall Lane has the tools at its disposal to compete in the Premier League.

Although he is yet to speak publicly about United's plans for arguably the most important recruitment drive in the club's recent history, it is possible to draw a picture of exactly where Wilder hopes to strengthen using a combination of well-informed sources and good old fashioned common sense.

Clearly, with Scott Hogan and Gary Madine returning to their parent clubs following spells at Bramall Lane on loan, two centre-forwards will feature on the list of targets he has drawn-up together with his assistant Alan Knill and scouting guru Paul Mitchell.

Matt Prestridge, assistant manager Alan Knill and Chris Wilder: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hogan, who scored twice in eight appearances after arriving from Aston Villa, is unlikely to return despite being surplus to requirements in the Midlands. Madine, previously of Sheffield Wednesday, has made no secret of his desire to agree a permanent deal having spoken publicly about his desire to leave Cardiff City. That could, given the 28-year-old's physical presence, lead to an offer being tabled if there is any spare money available.

But for the time being at least, with United's ability convert chances likely to decide if they establish themselves in the top-flight, Wilder's time is expected to be spent pursuing more prolific marksmen. Aged 22 and with his career on an upward trajectory following a successful campaign at Swansea City, Scotland international Ollie McBurnie fits the profile of the type of player United are set to try and sign.

Another area where United must look to bring in reinforcements is midfield, where Kieran Dowell provided excellent competition for Mark Duffy last term. If taking chances at the highest level is difficult, creating them in the first place is equally as important. With officials at Goodison Park known to have devised a long-term development strategy for Dowell, unless he is guaranteed to be used in an advanced central role, persuading them to enter into another temporary agreement could prove difficult.

In any case, given the increased level of funding he now has access to, Wilder would almost certainly prefer to make an outright purchase. Someone in the mould of Brentford's Neal Maupay - again he has yet to reach his 23rd birthday - could prove the solution and bring a slightly different dimension to United’s overall strategy.

Paul Mitchell: Sportimage

Despite being described erroneously portrayed as a manager who focus on British or Irish talent, Wilder is not averse to looking overseas. If he does chose to go down this route - and Mitchell is known to have undertaken several fact-finding missions abroad since Wilder's appointment in 2016 - then United must wait until FIFA's transfer matching system cranks back into life on June 11 before processing any such moves.

Closer the home, Manchester United have already been approached about the possibility of sending goalkeeper Dean Henderson back to South Yorkshire after he excelled during United's promotion from the Championship.

Speaking earlier this month, Wilder acknowledged those discussions are still at an early stage. But with Henderson known to be set on the idea of renewing the arrangement, all three parties involved are said to be confident of a successful resolution; possibly before Henderson travels with England to the forthcoming UEFA under-21 Championship finals, which are being staged in Italy and San Marino.

Wilder could also decide to bolster United's options at wing-back, where their 3-5-2 system demands George Baldock and Enda Stevens cover a huge amount of ground.

Sheffield United are heading back to the Premier League: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Although he is determined to bring "assets" to the football club, this is one area where Wilder could decide to inject some proven top-level experience into his squad if a younger, fresher name does not emerge before the window closes on August 8, at 5pm.