With midfielder John Swift shortly expected to join former Rangers goalkeeper Wes Foderingham at Bramall Lane as talks aimed at securing the midfielder’s release from Reading continue to progress, United are focusing their efforts on bolstering Wilder’s options in attack and defence after identifying them as potentially problematic areas due to a lack of competition.
“The players have given me everything but we’ve also got to improve,” the United manager said, after a 3-1 defeat at Southampton saw his team finish ninth less than a year after being promoted from the Championship. “We all have to get better and we all have to improve, because that’s what everyone else will be looking to do.
“We’re short, you can see that, because there were some tired bodies and minds out there. Hopefully the lads come back hungry for more because we have to go again pretty quickly. But we’ve also got to keep trying to drive everything on.”
The continued uncertainty surrounding Lys Mousset’s future at Bramall Lane - the Frenchman missed the visit to St Mary’s after being left out of the team which faced Everton six days earlier - United’s scouting department are monitoring potential replacements at home and abroad.
After recruiting Jack Robinson in January to provide cover for Jack O’Connell, Wilder also wants to do the same on the other side of the pitch should Chris Basham ever become unavailable for selection.
Swift’s anticipated arrival means Wilder is likely to have a ready made replacement for John Lundstram should talks with the Liverpudlian’s representative about extending his client’s contract continue to stall. Although United recently triggered a clause in Lundstram’s present agreement, tying him to the club for another 12 months, the financial havoc wreaked by the Covid -19 pandemic, which forced last term’s fixture calendar to be suspended for three months, means they will be loath to see him depart for nothing next summer.
Basham has also been invited to prolong his stay in South Yorkshire, after making 42 appearances as United finished ninth in the table despite only being promoted last term.
The 32-year-old, a veteran of the side crowned League One champions in 2017 following Wilder’s first season in charge, is a key figure a three man rearguard also containing John Egan and O’Connell.
United saw captain Billy Sharp, David McGoldrick and Oliver Norwood all put pen to paper on new deals after competition resumed last month following the nationwide health crisis.
“The boys have done brilliant,” Wilder said. “Absolutely brilliant. That should never be forgotten. But we’ve also got to really keep trying to get better at everything we do. And I’ll be doing my utmost to try and make sure that happens.”
United are expected to shortly begin that process by unveiling a new under-21’s coach to work with youngsters on their Steelphalt Academy youth programme, with former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom believed to be interested in the role.