Sheffield United: Chris Wilder hopes for Blades signings before weekend FA Cup tie

Leon Clarke of Sheffield Utd celebrates at Pride Park: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Leon Clarke of Sheffield Utd celebrates at Pride Park: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, hopes to add to his squad before this weekend’s FA Cup third round tie at Ipswich Town.

Wilder revealed United are “trying on a few fronts” in their efforts to add to their squad in this transfer window, after consolidating their promotion efforts with a 1-1 draw at Derby County yesterday.

Although the result saw United drop to seventh in the Championship after Aston Villa hammered Bristol City 5-0 in the day’s late kick-off, the performance only served to underline their status as genuine promotion candidates.

Wilder will this month attempt to maximise his modest budget this transfer window to strengthen their position, and admitted: “We’re trying on a few fronts. We’d like to get a couple in by this weekend to bolster the squad, although we’ll be making some changes down at Ipswich like we did last year.

“I want to drive us forward - and days like Monday make me believe that we belong in this division - but we want to be around the top of it.

“To do that we have to become more consistent and also make sure the squad is strong enough, because at the moment it’s not.

“We’ve lost a couple of players and our bench is pretty light, so we need to stiffen the group up.”

Wilder, who is expected to resurrect his pursuit of Ryan Leonard of Southend, was forced to play left-back Daniel Lafferty in midfield for the closing stages at Pride Park after John Lundstram was replaced, after picking up a knock.

Mark Duffy also hobbled off but neither are expected to miss United’s next league game, against rivals Sheffield Wednesday on January 12.

Leonard, meanwhile, played for Southend in their defeat at AFC Wimbledon yesterday - which left them 17th in League One, and saw manager Phil Brown facing the sack.

Sources close to Roots Hall say United have had another bid for the midfielder, thought to be in the region of £700,000, recently rejected by Shrimpers chairman Ron Martin.

Leonard is out of contract in the summer, and said: “It’s not really something I want to talk about straight after a game. It is what it is. Whatever happens is going to happen but all I’m concentrating on is trying to keep playing well for Southend.”