Sheffield United Digest: How boss plans to keep Aaron Ramsdale at Blades amid Arsenal interest; United's big Jack O'Connell injury dilemma; Lundstram reveals Blades influence on Rangers move
Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager, plans to tell Aaron Ramsdale that he is a crucial part of the Blades’ plan to win promotion to the Premier League when he meets the young goalkeeper for the first time in person, in a bid to ward off interest from top-flight side Arsenal.
Ramsdale, who is on duty with England ahead of tonight’s European Championship semi-final against Denmark, has emerged as a target for Arsenal since United’s relegation last season.
Although the goalkeeper spoke of “putting down roots” at Bramall Lane before being drafted into Gareth Southgate’s squad, there are fears the Londoners will try and tempt him into a U-turn by letting it be known that playing Championship football next term is unlikely to enhance his international prospects when the tournament concludes.
Aware of the tactics Mikel Arteta’s employers will use to try and unsettle the goalkeeper, Jokanovic has decided to leave Ramsdale in no doubt about his importance to the United cause during talks scheduled for next week. READ FULL STORY HERE
Why Blades could face crowd-favourite pair next season
Former Sheffield United crowd favourites Richard Stearman and Phil Jagielka are reportedly training with Derby County and could feature against the Blades next season if they are signed by the Championship crisis club.
According to reports, Derby have allowed both players to train with them in pre-season, although a deal for either or both may not be straightforward amidst their running battle with the EFL.
The league only recently accepted defeat in their bid to relegate Derby because of reported issues with their accounting policies and a soft transfer embargo, preventing Derby signing new players or offering new contracts to existing ones, remains in place. READ FULL STORY HERE
United’s big dilemma over Jack O’Connell
Ten months after first succumbing to injury - and five since making what Chris Wilder used to describe as a “return to the grass” - Jack O’Connell is still seemingly no closer to receiving his comeback date. Which is hugely troubling. For both the player himself and Sheffield United as a whole.
Speaking at his official unveiling on Friday, Slavisa Jokanovic admitted he was unsure about the exact details of O’Connell’s condition and whether or not he is still meeting the schedule those tasked with overseeing his recovery from a serious knee operation have set.
Well, the revised schedule - because Wilder, Jokanovic’s predecessor at Bramall Lane, suggested it would have been completed by now before leaving his position in March.
That in itself wasn’t concerning. After all, the Serb had only introduced himself to his squad for the first time in the flesh a little over 24 hours earlier. But what was, given Jokanovic’s understandable reluctance to discuss the issue, was the fact he already suspected O’Connell would miss pre-season. And so, inevitably, the start of the new campaign too. READ FULL STORY HERE
Inside Slavisa Jokanovic's first days, in pictures
Slavisa Jokanovic enjoyed a whirlwind start to life at Sheffield United last week, after meeting his players and coaching staff for the first time on Thursday before unveiled to the media 24 hours later.
It was a low-key start to life at the Blades for the Serb, with Covid-19 restrictions resulting in an open-air media gathering with strict timings for different journalists.
Take a look behind the scenes of Jokanovic’s unveiling as Blades boss, in our photo gallery… READ FULL STORY HERE
Blades to press defender for contract answer
Sheffield United will press Kean Bryan for an answer as to whether he plans to accept their offer of a new contract, as manager Slavisa Jokanovic looks to finalise his list of priorities in this summer’s transfer window.
Bryan is training on his own after failing to put pen to paper before his previous deal expired last month, with insurers refusing to cover him to work at the club’s Steelphalt Academy complex.
Although he has not rejected the proposal United presented to his agent over a month ago, neither has Bryan provided any indication he is minded to remain in South Yorkshire. The longer he procrastinates, the more suspicions will grow that he is keeping his options open whilst exploring opportunities elsewhere - a situation Jokanovic, who was officially unveiled on Friday, is keen to avoid. READ FULL STORY HERE
Lundstram reveals Blades influence on Rangers move
Ex-Sheffield United man John Lundstram believes he is already equipped to deal with the mental pressures of playing for a club the size of Rangers – because of the winning mentality instilled into him by Chris Wilder when they worked together at Bramall Lane.
The midfielder was yesterday officially unveiled at Rangers, signing a three-year deal at Ibrox after leaving United on a free transfer this summer.
Lundstram will work at Rangers with a boyhood hero in former Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard. And, when asked about the mental strength needed to play for Rangers, Lundstram said: “That’s something the old manager [Wilder] instilled in all of us back then. Obviously it didn’t end the way any of us would have wanted." READ FULL STORY HERE
Little-known former Blades man helping England’s bid for Euros glory
When England arrive at Wembley this evening for their Euros semi-final against Denmark, one current Sheffield United man and four former Blades will be vying for a place on Gareth Southate’s teamsheet.
The links of Aaron Ramsdale, Conor Coady, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to Sheffield United are well-known. But what has gone under the radar a little is the fact that another man formerly of Bramall Lane has played a key role in England’s resurgence under Southgate in recent years.
Ian Mitchell spent two seasons working at United under Dave Bassett in the mid 1990s. At the time, he was combining the role as sports scientist with his own playing career before a bad injury ended it. He became a lecturer in psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan university, before moving back into football at Swansea.
After a successful spell with the Wales senior team, including their run to the semi-finals of the 2016 Euros, Mitchell linked up with England and in 2019 became the FA’s head of performance psychology. READ FULL STORY HERE
Calvert-Lewin reveals how Blades shaped him as a player and as a person
Dominic Calvert-Lewin says the values and coaching that was instilled in him at Sheffield United’s academy has shaped the player and person he has become as he prepares to potentially make history with England this evening.
The striker, now of Everton, was named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euros on the back of his form for the Toffees last season and although his game-time has been limited so far, the Sheffield-born striker has appeared twice off the bench in England’s run to tomorrow night’s semi-final against Denmark at Wembley.
Calvert-Lewin has developed into one of the country’s best forwards since moving to Goodison Park from United in 2016. He made 11 senior appearances for the Blades after graduating from the club’s youth academy, and is one of five players in Southgate’s squad – including Aaron Ramsdale, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and Conor Coady – with a past or present connection to United. READ FULL STORY HERE