Sheffield United: Nigel Clough’s top secret wanted list

Sheffield United's Manager Nigel Clough during the game against Preston North End
Sheffield United's Manager Nigel Clough during the game against Preston North End
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Nigel Clough has delivered a top secret dossier of transfer targets to Bramall Lane’s board of directors ahead of tonight’s deadline for new signings.

Clough insisted Sheffield United are still “two or three players away” from possessing a promotion winning squad following Saturday’s pulsating draw at Preston North End which stretched the visitors’ unbeaten run in all competitions to four games.

Although acquiring defensive reinforcements is his top priority, The Star understands that Clough has also drawn-up plans to bolster the attacking options at United’s disposal before they return to action against Rochdale in 12 days time.

“We’d like to bring in some players,” Clough, the United manager, confirmed. “And we’d hope to as well.

“We’ve made the powers-that-be aware of what we need to get out of this league. We’ve also identified targets.

“All we can say is that these are the two or three players who we believe can make a real difference and then hope that we can bring them in.”

United, who could also allow the likes of Chris Porter and Andy Butler to depart on a temporary basis later this month if they fail to force themselves into Clough’s immediate plans, approached Leeds about the possibility of recruiting their captain Jason Pearce last month. But owner Massimo Cellino’s recent decision to sack head coach David Hockaday has prompted Clough to compile a list of alternative targets. Harry Maguire, whose £2.5m move to Hull City will be used to fund any recruitment drive, has also been linked with a return to South Yorkshire although Steve Bruce, Clough’s counterpart at the KC Stadium, could still veto proposals to let the centre-half leave on loan.

“We’re waiting to hear back from some people,” Clough said. “The emergency (loan) window opens soon so that is a possibility as well. But trying to do something permanent takes precedence over those at the moment.”

Speaking after Jose Baxter’s goal cancelled-out Andy Little’s opener for Preston, Clough revealed full-back Craig Alcock missed the match at Deepdale due to an injury sustained during United’s Capital One Cup success over West Ham four days earlier.

“Craig has got a slight thigh strain,” Clough said. “We could have pushed it with the two week break and we were tempted but, if he had broken down, then we might have been looking at losing Craig for four, five or possibly six weeks. Obviously, we didn’t want that so we decided against it.”

“We can go into the international break in great heart and spirit,” Clough added. “It makes a huge difference when you can do that on the back of a good result.

“We can have a rest and get all the little niggles cleared-up. Then, we can try and keep what is a nice little unbeaten run going again.”