Sheffield United: Four key questions on Blades' transfer deadline day agenda

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With the summer window set to close tonight, Sheffield United’s Paul Heckingbottom has made no secret of how he hopes to see deadline day unfold at Bramall Lane.
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The former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian chief, whose side regained first place in the Championship table following Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Reading, admitted he would be “happy” if one of the most significant events on the English football calendar passes without incident.

But Heckingbottom, who signed Anel Ahmedhodzic and Adam Davies during the close season whilst also acquiring Tommy Doyle, Reda Khadra, Ciaran Clark and James McAtee on loan, would nevertheless like to see a little more business completed ahead of the 11pm cut-off point.

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The Star’s James Shield identifies four key questions facing United, as they attempt to consolidate their promotion credentials.

What does the manager want?

Most importantly, keep Sander Berge. The Norway international has been linked with a move away since United failed to negotiate safe passage through last term’s play-offs, and senior figures at the club concede his agent has been “busy” in the market. Ahead of the meeting with Paul Ince’s side, Club Brugge were the only team known to have submitted a concrete bid for Berge’s services, which fell way short of what United could realistically consider.

The 24-year-old, a £22m purchase from Genk, has a £35m release clause written into his contract although Heckingbottom’s employers would consider allowing him to depart for less. The difficulty now is that, with Berge emerging as a key figure in United’s plans, it would prove almost impossible to draft in a quality replacement if an agreement is reached with a rival team. Heckingbottom explicitly admitted as much towards the end of last month.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Andrew Yates / SportimageSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Could United sign another player?

Heckingbottom would like to, after revealing injuries to John Fleck and Ben Osborn are preventing him from rotating his midfield in the same way he has in defence and attack. Despite confirming “conversations” about this have taken place, another new arrival appears unlikely unless one of United’s biggest names is sold.

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Are there players he wants to leave?

Ideally yes, although not because Heckingbottom does not rate them. Rather, with first team opportunities proving in short supply at the beginning of the campaign, he believes Will Osula and Kyron Gordon would both benefit from regular action elsewhere at this stage of their careers. Both youngsters are rated highly and regularly featured in United’s matchday squads during the second half of last season.

Sheffield United youngster Will OsulaSheffield United youngster Will Osula
Sheffield United youngster Will Osula

Although Heckingbottom describes himself as being “relaxed” about the prospect of keeping them, there is little doubt that their education would be best served by arranging placements elsewhere. Burton Albion, where Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is in charge, appears to be the perfect destination for Osula after the ex-Holland striker worked wonders with United’s Daniel Jebbison before his return in January.

What are the deadline day dangers?

Like Berge, Iliman Ndiaye boasts no shortage of admirers. Heckingbottom’s call for United to offer the Senegal international a new contract ASAP is a tacit acknowledgement of this fact. If a big offer is received for either of these players - and then accepted - it would leave Heckingbottom and his staff in an almost impossible situation and potentially damage morale both in the dressing room and on the terraces too.