Sheffield United: Blades credited with an interest in Newcastle United defender as possible Max Lowe alternative

Ciaran Clark, Dwight Gayle and Jeff Hendrick, who have all attracted interest from Sheffield United in recent years, are edging closer to the exit door at Newcastle after beginning pre-season training with the Premier League club’s development squad.

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Hendrick and Gayle, who were both admired by Paul Heckingbottom’s predecessor Chris Wilder, appear to be slipping down United’s list of priorities as officials at Bramall Lane focus their attention on Tom Lawrence following Tommy Doyle’s arrival in South Yorkshire.

But Clark, a vastly experienced centre-half, could emerge as an option if Max Lowe departs before the end of the transfer window. Capped 36 times by the Republic of Ireland and an international team mate of John Egan and Enda Stevens, Clark can also operate at left-back as well as in a defensive midfield role.

One report in the North-East this morning explained that Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe removed the trio from his first team sessions due to concerns about “bloated numbers” - stressing there had been no problems with their attitude.

Despite rejecting two bids from Nottingham Forest for Lowe earlier this summer, the 25-year-old’s future at United remains uncertain following his return from the City Ground. Lowe, who helped Steve Cooper’s side gain promotion to the Premier League after joining them on loan at the beginning of last term, has also been the subject of an approach by Olympiacos.

However the Greeks, who like Forest are owned by Evangelos Marinakis, are not yet prepared to match United’s £5m-plus valuation.

Newcastle United's Ciaran Clark appears set to leave the North-East and is said to boast admirers at Sheffield United

Having seen Anel Ahmehhodzic undergo a medical in England after they reached agreement over a fee for the Bosnia and Herzegovina defender, United immediately began pressing ahead with their attempts to recruit Lawrence on a free transfer after his contract with Derby County expired.

Tottenham Hotspur are set to take a decision on Jack Clarke, who is admired by both Sunderland and United, before establishing a temporary training camp in South Korea. United, who are spending the week at the Cidade do Futebol on the outskirts of Lisbon, return home following Friday’s friendly against Casa Pia. They are scheduled to contest five more warm-up fixtures before travelling to Watford next month.

The Cidade do Futebol, where Sheffield United are based this week: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images
Jeff Hendrick of Newcastle was wanted by Chris Wilder before his move to St James' Park: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle challenges Harry Maguire of Manchester United, who used to play for Sheffield United: Stu Forster/Getty Images