Sheffield United: A fresh round of talks beckon as Chris Wilder looks to protect his squad from top-flight vultures

Chris Basham has been offered a new contract
Chris Basham has been offered a new contract

With Chris Basham on the verge of extending his stay at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United will begin the next phase of a project designed to ensure other leading members of Chris Wilder's team are tied to the club for the foreseeable future.

As The Star revealed earlier this month, Kieron Freeman and Enda Stevens will be offered new contracts after being recognised at international level by Wales and the Republic of Ireland respectively.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

But Wilder and his staff are also thought to be investigating the possibility of rewarding other members of United's first team squad following its impressive start to the new season. If the board of directors grant them permission to press ahead, midfielder Paul Coutts could be among those invited to the negotiating table after confirming his recovery from a broken leg.

With the measure also designed to dissuade rival Championship and Premier League teams from submitting bids during the January transfer window, Jack O'Connell could also come under consideration after attracting admiring glances from Brighton and Hove Albion last summer. 

The 24-year-old was handed a new long term deal midway through the previous campaign, two months after John Fleck also put pen to paper on a four year contract.

United must also decide whether or not to retain defender Martin Cranie's services after signing him until the end of January following his release by Middlesbrough.

Sheffield United's squad must remain intact

Sheffield United's squad must remain intact