Sheffield United ‘possibly’ close to new faces as coach drops transfer hint

Blades still targeting recinforcements in midfield and defence ahead of new Premier League season
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Stuart McCall has no concerns over Sheffield United’s ability to sign “a few” new faces ahead of the new Premier League season, after admitting the Blades are “possibly” close to making another breakthrough in the transfer market. United have signed three new players so far this season - Benie Traore, Yasser Larouci and Anis Slimane - but are still seeking defensive and midfield reinforcements.

With just over two weeks to go until August 12’s kick-off at home to Crystal Palace, Jack Robinson remains United’s only senior centre-half while injuries this week to Ollie Norwood (face) and John Fleck (leg) have only reinforced the need for further midfield options, despite the impressive-looking addition of Tunisian international Slimane.

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United have kept their powder dry so far in terms of loan signings, with two available from domestic rivals - albeit only one from any particular club. United had initially hoped to work with both Tommy Doyle and James McAtee again, with the latter playing - and scoring - for Manchester City in their friendly against Bayern Munich earlier this week.

Doyle was omitted from City’s squad for their pre-season tour after his exploits with England’s U21 Euros-winning squad earlier in the summer, and has made no secret of his desire to return to Bramall Lane. Other options, including Carney Chukwuemeka of Chelsea, have also been considered, while defender Abdoulaye Ndiaye, a known target of United, joined French side Troyes for €3.5 million last week.

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Speaking earlier this week, McCall was asked if United are close to any further transfer breakthroughs. “Possibly, you never know in this game do you?” McCall told The Star. “You think you’re close to something and something else crops up and the brakes have to be put on certain things.

“We’ve done a lot of homework, watched a lot of football and individuals, and spoken to a lot of players. Obviously, we’re going to get a few more through the door before the season gets up and running. We enjoy that work. I like looking atthe midfielders we’re looking to bring in and there’s a lot of work that goes into it, from the analysts to Mitch [Paul Mitchell, head of recruitment] and all the coaching staff.

“We want to create a good environment. We lost five popular lads out of the dressing room, in Enda [Stevens] and Sharpy [Billy Sharp] and the three loanees [Ciaran Clark, Doyle and McAtee]. They were all good lads and popular in the dressing room, so we’ve got to build that environment. You want the best players you can get, of course, but they have got to be good lads who know what we’re about and what we’re after at Sheffield United.

“It’s about getting the balance. It’s nice to get young and hungry players in, naturally, but there’s something to be said for experience. And we’ve got good experience in the team. It’s all about putting in the right building blocks, and being ready for the big kick-off.”

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