Sheffield United: Blades prepare new bid for midfielder

Blades transfer target Ryan Leonard
Blades transfer target Ryan Leonard
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Sheffield United are poised to submit an increased bid for Southend captain Ryan Leonard.

The midfielder, one of Chris Wilder’s long-standing transfer targets, has been the subject of offers from both Bramall Lane and Millwall this summer despite chairman Ron Martin’s decision to extend his contract.

Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder

Speaking before United travelled to Spain for warm weather training ahead of tonight’s friendly against Malaga FC, Leonard admitted he expects to start the season at Roots Hall. But the South Yorkshire club are believed to be preparing another approach in an attempt to break the impasse.

Wilder, who has signed five new players since steering United back into the Championship, could recruit up to four more before next month’s Championship opener against Brentford.

“I think we’re in real good shape,” he said. “We’re looking to get a few more in but we’re in a good position I believe.”

Leonard, aged 25, made nearly 50 appearances for Phil Brown’s side last season and is Southend’s reigning player of the year. Like Holmes, who agreed an improved deal with Charlton after United refused to meet their valuation of the winger, Southend have indicated Leonard will be offered fresh terms in an attempt to end doubts about his future.

Meanwhile, Wilder has admitted United will face a “tough test” when they face Malaga in nearby Coin this evening.

Ched Evans could make his first pre-season appearance during a match which pits the League One champions against opponents who finished 11th in La Liga last season.

“The boys have been working hard over here,” he said. “We’ve been doing exactly what we would at home but obviously with the heat. You just have to acclimatise fast.”

“They’re clearly a good team,” Wilder added. “So it’s going to be a tough test but one we’re looking forward to.”

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