Sheffield United: The issues still to be addressed as transfer plan takes shape ahead of Watford test

After initially struggling to make headway, Sheffield United’s plan for the summer transfer window is now progressing at pace.
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Sheffield United: Why Anel Ahmedhodvic could prove to be a 'steal' in the transf...

Anel Ahmedhodzic, Tommy Doyle, Ciaran Clark have all recently arrived, Reda Khadra could be poised to follow and Adam Davies has agreed to return after his previous deal expired.

But there are still plenty of issues for manager Paul Heckingbottom to address before next month’s return to competitive action. The Star’s James Shield identifies what they are, and highlights the most important.

Sheffield United's new signing Tommy Doyle (right) with Daniel JebbisonSheffield United's new signing Tommy Doyle (right) with Daniel Jebbison
Sheffield United's new signing Tommy Doyle (right) with Daniel Jebbison


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Wes Foderingham and Adam Davies are both experienced and talented options, with the latter signing a new two year contract recently. Expected to be named in the Wales squad which travels to the World Cup this winter, Davies won’t be satisfied with a watching brief during the first three months of the campaign so his presence guarantees competition as well as depth of quality.

Foderingham excelled between the posts last term. After dislodging Sweden’s Robin Olsen and then performing well enough to convince United to terminate the international’s loan deal from AS Roma, it would be a major surprise if he did not start next month’s visit to Watford.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom speaks to his squadSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom speaks to his squad
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom speaks to his squad

However, Foderingham’s contract is scheduled to expire next summer and United would be advised not to wait until the second half of the campaign - as they have developed a habit of doing - before addressing this situation.

To Do: Open talks with Foderingham.


Max Lowe has been the subject of interest from Nottingham Forest and OlympiacosMax Lowe has been the subject of interest from Nottingham Forest and Olympiacos
Max Lowe has been the subject of interest from Nottingham Forest and Olympiacos

On paper, Ahmedhodzic and Clark both look astute acquisitions. Despite joining on loan, Clark has entered the final 12 months of his deal at Newcastle and is not expected to be offered a new one. If he gets plenty of game-time, and settles in South Yorkshire, then United should be in the box seat to secure his signature on a permanent basis. Ahmedhodzic, recruited from Malmo, is also of international calibre. Still to enter the peak years of his career, Clark’s fellow centre-half should blossom at Bramall Lane. Mind you, let’s not pretend otherwise, comments from Ahmedhodzic’s father soon after the move was announced were unhelpful and slightly concerning. He would be better off advising his son to concentrate on United rather than suggesting he could soon be destined for even bigger things.

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With Jayden Bogle unlikely to be fit until September at the earliest, there will be a temptation to acquire more cover for George Baldock. But it is on the other side of Heckingbottom’s rearguard where United should focus their attention. Rhys Norrington-Davies, Davies’ Wales team mate, could eventually morph into a centre-half. But, for the time being, he will compete with Enda Stevens and Max Lowe. Courted by Olympiacos, Lowe knows he could have been playing Champions League rather than Championship football next term. Heckingbottom has been making all the right noises about keeping him but, there’s no point in beating around the bush, Lowe is unlikely to be quite as happy with his lot right now as coaching staff are making out - particularly after excelling on loan as he helped Nottingham Forest gain promotion last season.

To Do: Put an end to doubts about Lowe, one way or another, once and for all.

Brighton's Reda Khadra impressed on loan at Blackburn Rovers last seasonBrighton's Reda Khadra impressed on loan at Blackburn Rovers last season
Brighton's Reda Khadra impressed on loan at Blackburn Rovers last season


Three things will decide if United need to revisit this area again after signing Tommy Doyle on loan from Manchester City. The first is where Reda Khadra is most likely to be deployed should the German youngster complete his temporary switch to Bramall Lane. The second is exactly what formation Heckingbottom plans to adopt next term and exactly how he sees it working. Remember, his predecessor Chris Wilder retained a 3-5-2 but made a number of subtle tweaks to its dynamic after guiding United into the Premier League in 2019.

The third is Sander Berge. Will the Norwegian remain in situ or move on? If he does go, and his agent is certainly doing his damndest to try and discover an exit route, then United will need to replace him with someone also capable of breaking the lines and chipping in with regular goals - a habit Berge developed after being handed a more advanced role.

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If Heckingbottom does lose Berge, United would benefit from bringing in someone of similar physical stature and of real athletic ability. John Lundstram, when his heart was still in the United project, showcased what a devastating weapon a powerful player capable of operating just behind the front two can be.

There are also contract issues for United to consider here too, with Oliver Norwood and John Fleck among those approaching the end of their agreements.

To Do: Begin preparing the groundwork to replace Berge if he goes.


Capturing Khadra would solve one of the biggest problems with United’s attack. Well, until Rhian Brewster is back and firing on all cylinders that is. Because as they discovered during the first-half of last term, during a sobering defeat at Blackburn Rovers, the former Germany youth international has lashings of pace.

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Now back at Brighton and Hove Albion but out of the Premier League club’s plans, the speed with which Khadra covers ground is guaranteed to cause a headache for any defender or defences. Operating alongside Brewster, or peeling off Oli McBurnie given that United seem wedded to the idea that he is a target man, Khadra could wreak havoc. Especially when you throw Iliman Ndiaye’s unpredictability into the mix.

Billy Sharp is bound to force his way into the equation too, given that he remains the best finisher at United by some considerable margin.

All of that means a decision must be made on whether to keep Daniel Jebbison and Will Osula at the club or arrange meaningful loans for them if regular football is unlikely to be in plentiful supply.

To Do: Work out the best permutations and how to best accelerate the development of youngsters.