Sheffield United set to step-up their pursuit of Man Utd's Jesse Lingard
Sheffield United believe they still have a genuine chance of signing Jesse Lingard despite their perilous predicament at the bottom of the Premier League table, after the England international was told that Bramall Lane could be the ideal place to relaunch his career.
The Star understands that the Manchester United midfielder has been reassured by his advisors that joining Chris Wilder’s side, who are 11 points adrift of safety following yesterday’s defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, would not prove an obstacle to securing a high-profile move away from Old Trafford at the end of the season.
Although United accept there are no guarantees that Lingard will sign, they remain hopeful of securing the 28-year-old’s services as Wilder looks to bolster the options at his disposal ahead of next month’s deadline.
Although he insisted he remains “fully focused” on forthcoming games against Manchester City and Lingard’s parent club, Wilder appeared to stress the need for players to arrive on loan after the meeting with Jose Mourinho’s side.
“We’re squeezing everything out of these lads, “ the United manager said, after injuries again prevented him from naming a full complement of substitutes of the bench. “We believe we’re getting everything out of them that we absolutely can. But a lot of them look tired and leggy and, as you can see, we don’t have the numbers at the moment.”
With a left-sided centre-half also featuring on his wish list as Jack O’Connell continues to recover from knee surgery, Wilder believes Lingard possesses both the talent and the experience to prolong United’s survival bid.
Representatives acting on Wilder’s behalf are already thought to have met with Lingard and members of his inner-circle, after being granted permission to present United’s proposal in person by officials at Old Trafford. Nice have also expressed an interest in Lingard, although Wilder suspects the player himself would prefer to remain in England.
Although Enda Stevens returned to face Spurs after recovering from injury, the Republic of Ireland defender was only parachuted straight back into the starting eleven because of a knock sustained by Ben Osborn during last week’s victory over Newcastle - United’s only success in the competition so far this term.
Osborn is now a doubt for Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle, while John Egan is suspended for the visit of Manchester United four days later after collecting his fifth caution of the campaign during the loss to Spurs.
“Ben being out, it wouldn’t be tactical would it? Not when we could only get six (players) or whatever on the bench,” Wilder continued. “My main focus, my only focus, is preparing for games and trying to give these boys the help, encouragement and support they need. That’s what I’m fully focused on. Nothing else. That’s the way it’s got to be.”
United fell behind early on against Spurs, when Serge Aurier headed home from a corner before Harry Kane stretched their advantage. Although David McGoldrick reduced the deficit after the break, a superb individual effort from Tanguy Ndombele settled the contest.
"These lads, I admire their fight and they’re giving everything,” Wilder said. “But the conditioning of these world class players is something else. It really is.”