Sheffield United hold talks with transfer targets as Chris Wilder looks abroad in the search for Jack O'Connell's replacement
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United’s inability to draft-in cover for O’Connell, who could miss the remainder of the Premier League season as he recovers from knee surgery, was a major source of frustration for Wilder earlier this term as offers for Huddersfield Town’s Terence Kongolo and Ben Davies of Preston North End failed to materialise.
Having also been linked with Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo, who is known to boast admirers among the Bramall Lane hierarchy, United are set to revisit the situation over the festive period having been forced to deploy wing-back Enda Stevens at centre-half in recent games.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against West Ham, Wilder revealed he has no plans to recall Wales international Rhys Norrington-Davies from his loan spell at Luton Town in order to fill the void created by O’Connell’s absence. Instead, after watching United make a slow start to the new campaign - they enter the meeting with David Moyes’ side without a win in eight - Wilder wants to recruit “experience” with several avenues in Europe being explored in recent weeks.
“With Jack’s replacement, there’s dialogue with the board,” Wilder said. “We’re up to date, position specific and aware of the qualities we need. There’s names on the list and there’s conversations between clubs.”
Acknowledging that travel restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic could make it difficult to assess overseas targets, Wilder added: “We can still see abroad, because of the coverage that we get now. We’ve got to fill that void with the best possible player. If that means taking a slight punt on somebody we haven’t seen up close, then that’s what we’ll do.”
Regarded as O’Connell’s long-term successor, Norrington-Davies’ reputation has ballooned in recent weeks after being awarded his first senior international caps.
The Steelphalt Academy graduate moved to Kenilworth Road during the close season and Wilder said: “Rhys is there for the season. He’s doing fabulously well and I envisage bringing in someone with experience in January. It’s doing him no harm being at an excellent club with an excellent manager.”