Sheffield United boss takes advice before deciding whether to pursue transfer for Chelsea youngster

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom will draw upon the advice of academy director Derek Geary and development coach Michael Collins before deciding whether or not to pursue a deal for Chelsea youngster Silko Thomas.
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The defender has featured for United’s under-21 side after being invited to South Yorkshire for training and remains at Bramall Lane ahead of tomorrow night’s game against Hull City; a fixture which is expected to see Iliman Ndiaye make his 29th appearance of the season after it was confirmed he has recovered from the injury which had threatened to rule him out.

Despite revealing Thomas will be offered a professional contract if United elect to try and sign him, Heckingbottom explained why he wants to be guided by Geary and Collins before reaching a decision.

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“Silko has played in a game that we couldn’t get to,” Heckingbottom said. “All of my feedback has been through Del and Micky. We know his qualities. He’s a wing-back who likes to get on the front foot which is good but we (the first team coaching staff) will be led by them (Geary and Collins). If they give us the right feedback then we’ll come in and have a look.”

“I’m not going to make other people’s decisions for them,” added Heckingbottom, who indicated Ndiaye’s fellow centre-forward Oli McBurnie could also feature when United meet City. “I’m not going to be here forever and we want to have the right foundations, we want to know if people are good at their jobs. I don’t want to become a safety net for other people.”

Thomas, aged 18, first joined Chelsea’s youth programme at under-10 level and has featured in UEFA Youth League ties against the likes of Milan and Dinamo Zagreb during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom and Iliman Ndiaye: Darren Staples / SportimageSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom and Iliman Ndiaye: Darren Staples / Sportimage
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom and Iliman Ndiaye: Darren Staples / Sportimage

Heckingbottom, who still wants to bolster his attacking options ahead of this month’s transfer deadline, said: “I don’t know what his situation at Chelsea is and what he’s been told. If something does happen, then it would be a pro position. We want the best in the team and then the best group below that. We want it simple and slick.”

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Second in the Championship table, United have prepared for the clash with Hull 11 points clear of third placed Watford. Ndiaye’s involvement had been shrouded in doubt ever since he hobbled-out of last weekend’s victory over Stoke City and was seen leaving the stadium with an ice pack wrapped around his leg.

Although George Baldock and Enda Stevens will again miss out, McBurnie could feature on the bench after it emerged he has made progress in his battle to overcome an ankle complaint. Ndiaye has netted 10 times so far this term while McBurnie, who forged an effective partnership with the Senegal international, had scored nine before succumbing to the complaint which was also troubling him before the World Cup break.

Oli McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye forged a strong partnership for Sheffield United earlier this season: Andrew Yates / SportimageOli McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye forged a strong partnership for Sheffield United earlier this season: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Oli McBurnie and Iliman Ndiaye forged a strong partnership for Sheffield United earlier this season: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

“Iliman is fine, he trained today and so we’re pleased with that,” Heckingbottom said. “Oli Mac has trained, Flecky (John Fleck) and Ciaran (Clark) are on the grass so that’s where we’re at. I want to involve Oli. We are leaning that way because he’s got power back and feels like he can push off. But we're aware of how much (football) he's missed."