Sheffield United: A new transfer target emerges as the identity of striker’s suitors are revealed

Chris Wilder: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Chris Wilder: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

At least three Championship clubs have expressed an interest in signing Sheffield United's Leon Clarke, the Star can reveal, after manager Chris Wilder admitted he will allow the centre-forward to decide if his future remains at Bramall Lane.

Clarke missed yesterday's draw at Norwich City, which saw the visitors climb to third in the table, after United received a number of approaches from rival teams on the eve of the game.

Although Wilder elected not to identify where those enquries had emanated from, it is understood Millwall and Bristol City are among those keen on holding talks with the 33-year-old who was United's leading goalscorer last term. Hull City are also believed to have been monitoring his situation although Nigel Adkins appeared to rule-out a bid following their defeat by Blackburn Rovers.

But Wilder is unlikely to sanction Clarke's departure unless he can sign a replacement before Thursday's transfer deadline.

Aston Villa's Scott Hogan, who expressed a desire to join United earlier this term, is among those under consideration as the former European champions' hierarchy look to reorganise their budget following another disappointing season in the Midlands.

"I'm always open in situations like this," Wilder, referring to Clarke, said. "Yes, there's been people interested in him.

"Leon wasn't involved here (Norwich), partly because of that, and we'll let him think about what he wants to do. He's obviously got three or four days to do that."

"We've told Leon about the interest," Wilder added. "We always do tell our players if someone comes in for them because we prefer to be honest and keep them abreast of what's going on."

Hogan, aged 26, had appeared destined to join United in August and publicly vented his frustration when former manager Steve Bruce blocked the proposed deal before being sacked two months later.

Although Wilder was expected to resurrect the deal this summer, United felt Villa would be loath to do business with a direct promotion rival mid-season.

However Bruce's departure, combined with the appointment of Christian Purslow as chief executive officer, has changed the landscape. Crucially, Hogan, previously of Brentford, Halifax and Stocksbridge Park Steels, is known to remain keen on a move to South Yorkshire despite also receiving proposals from elsewhere.

Billy Sharp scored twice as United climbed to third in the table following their meeting with City, who remained second.

"I thought the lads showed real character against another really good side," Wilder said. "We always go in to try and win, no matter who its against, but they (Norwich) are an exceptional side who cause you all sorts of problems with their movement. 

"You've got to respect that and I was pleased with what I saw, because we knew it would be a tight game and that's the sort of one a while ago we might not have quite seen out."