Sheffield United are unlikely to resurrect their interest in Scott Hogan until next summer, The Star has learnt.
Chris Wilder's decision, which comes following a protracted and ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of the Aston Villa centre-forward earlier this year, is a consequence of his team's strong start to the Championship season.
With a striker and attacking midfielder their top priorities during the January transfer window, United's coaching staff discussed the possibility of making another approach for Hogan earlier this month. But they concluded Villa, whose results have improved since appointing Dean Smith as manager, would prevent the former Brentford marksman from joining any team they viewed as a top six rival. United are fourth in the table, only three points behind leaders Norwich City, ahead of Saturday's visit to Rotherham.
Although their stance could change if they receive direct encouragement, it means Wilder is likely to look elsewhere for the extra firepower he believes is necessary to enhance his squad's promotion credentials.
Hogan, who has yet to start a game for Villa this term, criticised Steve Bruce for blocking a move to Bramall Lane before August's deadline; accusing Smith's predecessor of misrepresenting his situation at Villa Park. The arrival of Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea, another player Wilder admires, has further limited the 26-year-old's opportunities.
His comments proved, as this newspaper reported at the time, that United were close to securing Hogan signature until Bruce personally intervened. To avoid a repeat, Wilder is expected to place his interest in the player on hold before deciding whether or not to make another approach during the close season.
With fellow Premier League hopefuls West Bromwich Albion, Leeds and Derby County all set to invest heavily in their squads when the window reopens, United view the loan market as a potential source of talent which might otherwise be beyond their reach.
Wilder's side travel to New York Stadium knowing a win could see them return to the top of the table but defender John Egan is a major doubt after suffering a calf injury on duty with the Republic of Ireland.