Sheffield United could be closer to securing one of their transfer targets

Sheffield United appear confident of signing at least one of their leading targets during next month’s transfer window after Chris Wilder insisted Rhys Norrington-Davies, the Premier League club’s promising defender, will not be recalled from his spell on loan at Luton Town.

Monday, 14th December 2020, 6:00 am

In a move which suggests talks aimed at delivering a new centre-half to Bramall Lane are progressing as planned, the United manager again appeared to rule-out cutting short Norrington-Davies’ stay at Kenilworth Road, despite acknowledging a left-sided player tops his wish list following the loss of Jack O’Connell.

Awarded his first senior caps for Wales earlier this season, Norrington-Davies signed an improved and extended contract before United’s 3-0 defeat by Southampton at St Mary’s. But Wilder looks set to resist the temptation to bring the 21-year-back to South Yorkshire ahead of schedule - even though he is being groomed as O’Connell’s long-term successor.

“Rhys is doing well and we are delighted for the young man,” Wilder said. “There’s no recall, we wanted him to go out there for the season and start building a career for himself. Playing in the Premier League is a big step but it’s good news that he’s doing really well and has committed his future to us.”

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Sheffield United were beaten by Southampton on Sunday afternoon: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Although they do have the right to terminate Norrington-Davies’ agreement with Luton, Wilder has told United’s board of directors an experienced replacement for O’Connell is required to improve his squad’s chances of being relegated from the Premier League. They remain at the foot of the table, and seven points from safety, after Che Adams, Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Red,ond scored without reply for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side on the south coast.

With O’Connell in danger of missing the rest of the campaign as he recovers from knee surgery, United have struggled to fill the void created by his absence with Kean Bryan, Enda Stevens and Jack Robinson all deputising for the Liverpudlian in recent weeks.

Marcos Rojo, out of favour at Manchester United, is known to boast admirers among United’s hierarchy with a move for the Argentine being considered earlier this term. However, despite being briefed on the plan, Wilder focused his attention on Preston North End’s Ben Davies and Terence Kongolo, now of Fulham, before the October deadline. With Rojo’s employers set to visit United on Thursday evening, Wilder is also understood to be exploring potential lines if enquiry abroad. Having outlined plans to sell John Lundstram before he becomes a free agent in the summer, United will also attempt to recruit a midfielder if the former England youth international departs. Reading’s John Swift would be Wilder’s preferred choice. But with United focusing on brokering temporary rather than permanent deals, he could be forced to wait until May before resurrecting his interest.

Wilder instructed negotiators acting on his behalf to withdraw a £3.5m offer they had tabled with Reading after fearing officials at the Madejski Stadium wanted to lure United into an auction for Swift, who is also likely to attract interest from Aston Villa if Ross Barkley returns to Chelsea following the end of his loan to the West Midlands.