Sheffield United: Millwall boss expects competition for Oli Burke signing after play-off push

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Gary Rowett, the Millwall manager, has acknowledged that his side may face competition from elsewhere in the summer if they decide to launch an attempt to sign Sheffield United forward Oliver Burke on a permanent basis.

The Scottish international is on loan at The Den from Bramall Lane in a deal that runs until the summer – at which point Burke will have only a year left on his United contract.

United are thought to be unlikely to put up too much resistance if a suitable bid arrives for him this summer, with the player himself admitting recently that it would be “amazing” if the chance to return to the capital surfaced.

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Those comments prompted a reminder from Paul Heckingbottom that Burke remains a United player, and the Blades will decide what happens to him.

Rowett, Heckingbottom’s counterpart in the capital, saw both sets of comments as understandable – “I don’t think [Burke] said more than any other player on loan would feel like they have to say”, he said, adding: “I don’t think Sheffield United have said any more than they have to say” – but spoke again on the future of the on-loan Blades man after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Peterborough, which ironically kept up their challenge for the Blades’ play-off spot.

As well as Burke, Rowett has Benik Afobe on loan from Stoke – the striker scoring his 13th of the season against Peterborough – and Arsenal’s Daniel Ballard in defence, while Liverpool’s Sheyi Ojo and another Blade in Luke Freeman have seen their loan spells at The Den disrupted by injury.

Oliver Burke is at Millwall on loan from Sheffield United (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)Oliver Burke is at Millwall on loan from Sheffield United (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Oliver Burke is at Millwall on loan from Sheffield United (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

“Any player who has played a strong part this season, of course you would like to try to keep them if that opportunity arises,” Rowett said.

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“But there are so many things that can happen between now and midway through the summer. Teams don’t make those decisions; they’ve had strong finishes, which obviously puts their parent clubs in a good position to get other people wanting to take them.

“They’ve been a great part so far, people like Burkey, like Benik, Dan Ballard who is out injured.

“We’ve got to try to keep good quality players. Which ones they are won’t always be down to us but I think that’s our ambition and what we want to try to do.”

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