Sheffield United boss makes an admission about Reda Khadra loan decision ahead of Birmingham visit

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has admitted he might not have agreed to terminate Reda Khadra’s loan in January had it been revealed to him that a transfer embargo was about to be placed upon the club.
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Khadra, who later joined Monday’s opponents Birmingham City until the end of the campaign, arrived at Bramall Lane from Brighton and Hove Albion last summer and was scheduled to remain in South Yorkshire for the next 11 months. But after suffering from limited opportunities, Heckingbottom granted Khadra’s wish to seek regular first team football elsewhere; only to discover shortly after that he would be prevented from drafting in a replacement. The 45-year-old, who has guided United to promotion from the Championship, had previously sought an undertaking that could happen if the German under-21 international moved on.

Asked for his thoughts on the Khadra situation ahead of the visit to St Andrews, where United will contest their final match before returning to the Premier League, Heckingbottom said: “Well, I didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t be able to bring anyone in.”

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Although United officials have attempted to make light of Khadra’s loss, with Heckingbottom’s team going on to regain its top-flight status following two seasons in the second tier, it did leave coaching staff with fewer options at their disposal than they had in August. United did retain the services of Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge, after some vigorous petitioning by Heckingbottom behind the scenes. But United’s inability to refresh their squad, both mentally and physically, could have proven costly at a time when all of their nearest challengers strengthened.

Khadra has made 13 starts, eight more than he did for United, since agreeing a temporary move to the Midlands. Heckingbottom was informed last month that the English Football League’s ban on him processing new registrations had been lifted, with United using revenues raised from their march into the FA Cup semi-finals to pay outstanding debts.

Heckingbottom is now waiting for permission to begin the process of deciding which of the 11 players on permanent contracts whose deals are about to expire will remain at United and who will be allowed to depart.