Sheffield United: Contracts talks are placed on hold as transfers take priority

Sheffield United's Enda Stevens
Sheffield United's Enda Stevens

Sheffield United are expected to wait until the end of next month's transfer window before holding contracts talks with Enda Stevens and Kieron Freeman.

The two defenders have both been offered new deals by Chris Wilder's side as coaching staff look to tie the majority of their first team squad down to long-term agreements.

Kieron Freeman of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Kieron Freeman of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Although  preliminary negotiations with both players and their agents have already taken place, Wilder has confirmed talks are not scheduled to be concluded until February as United focus on identifying and then securing his leading targets.

"We've said we'll try and get through this period and then address it in our own time," he said. "The initial contact with players and agents has been made. There's 18 months left on those deals. It's not an unbelievable priority to get them both done now. We'll see how it goes."

Although Wilder's words suggest the timing of those discussions could be brought forward in certain circumstances, a number of factors have prompted him to revise his 'to do' list. With United likely to focus on arranging Premier League loans in order to strengthen their squad, the 51-year-old accepts the complexity of those agreements means administrators in Bramall Lane's footballing department are likely to be juggling a particularly heavy workload over the coming weeks.

But with Martin Cranie entering the closing stages of his short-term contract, United will be forced to commit some manpower to addressing the former Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough defender's situation. 

Chris Wilder: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"There's Martin, because he's not on a long deal," Wilder said. "And some more pressing issues coming up."

After accepting they can not compete financially with the majority of clubs also chasing promotion from the Championship, Wilder believes borrowing top-flight talent represents United's best opportunity of acquiring the calibre of player they require to remain competitive.

A centre-forward, to compete with Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke, Conor Washington and David McGoldrick, is the first task on his agenda while Wilder has also asked scouts to compile reports on a number of attacking midfielders.

"We like to plan and the idea is to make sure we stay in a position to do that properly," Wilder, who has secured the futures of John Fleck, Leon Clarke, Jack O'Connell and Simon Moore in recent months, said. "It's something, when we came in, we put a lot of effort into to and hopefully we'll get the benefits of that."