SHEFFIELD United have received the green light from Leicester City to extend Paul Gallagher’s stay at Bramall Lane.
Nigel Pearson, the City manager, described Gallagher’s initial month-long stint with Danny Wilson’s side as a positive experience for “all parties” concerned before acknowledging he is open to the possibility of extending the arrangement.
However, it remains unclear whether United’s search for a new goalkeeper ahead of this weekend’s League One fixture with Oldham Athletic - Mark Howard has been ruled out for a month with a muscle injury - will adversely effect Wilson’s efforts to retain Gallagher’s services.
“It has certainly been a good experience for Paul and it has suited all parties,” Pearson said. “It is good for him to be playing because he has had a difficult time.”
Wilson, speaking before last Saturday’s game at Leyton Orient, confirmed he wanted Gallagher to remain in South Yorkshire beyond the duration of his original deal.
But, with Howard being forced to retire just 11 minutes into the 1-0 victory, United’s priority is now signing a replacement for the 26-year-old.
Howard’s teenage deputy George Long delivered an assured display against Orient despite making only his sixth senior appearance.
George Willis, who featured for the under-21s at Sheffield Wednesday last night, is expected to provide cover should Wilson fail to identify a suitable target.
Although Gallagher remains under contract at the King Power Stadium - Pearson’s predecessor Sven Goran Eriksson extended his terms until 2015 - City sources acknowledge his long-term future lies away from the Midlands.
A former Scotland international, he was scheduled to return to his parent club yesterday having scored one goal in six appearances for United.
“Paul has got better and better the more he’s played,” Wilson said last week. “That’s only to be expected because he’s a quality performer. Ultimately, the decision is in Leicester’s hands.
“It’s better for players to actually play, though, and that’s what he’s been doing here with us. Paul is relaxed and has been enjoying himself.”
n United have been handed a bye into the second round of the FA Youth Cup following Wycombe Wanderers’ withdrawal. Long and Harry Maguire were members of the squad which reached the final in 2011.