Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has promised to be “honest” and “open” with his players in a bid to preserve team spirit behind the scenes at Bramall Lane.
But Wilder, whose team are unbeaten in 13 League One outings after overcoming Shrewsbury Town at the weekend, insisted nobody will be held hostage if they want to leave the League One club.
“I don’t want people moping about,” Wilder said. “I won’t put a gun to their head. If people want to go, they can go. In football clubs, there is always going to be disappointment. That’s par for the course because everybody wants to be involved.
“The door is always open, though. I’ll always explain what’s going on. I’ll get decisions wrong. I’ll get decisions right. But I’ll always be honest with the lads.”
A number of United players, including Chris Basham, John Fleck and Billy Sharp, have paid tribute to Wilder’s interpersonal skills in recent weeks. However, with a settled starting 11 now beginning to take shape, the 49-year-old and his assistant, Alan Knill, acknowledge that some members of United’s squad might grow frustrated unless opportunities present themselves soon.
Crucially, though, Wilder has demonstrated a willingness to acknowledge his mistakes if players perform during training and games.
Paul Coutts and Kieron Freeman were removed from the transfer list after delivering a series of impressive displays while George Long, who has featured just once since being dropped in August, was recently praised by Wilder for his conduct towards fellow goalkeepers Aaron Ramsdale and Simon Moore.
With Freeman and Coutts both doubts for tomorrow’s visit of Bury due to injury, Jack O’Connell, Harry Chapman and Stefan Scougall could all start.
United, who enter that match second in the table, are also plotting to bolster their options when the transfer window reopens in January.
With Wolves yet to confirm if on-loan defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell will be recalled, Millwall’s Byron Webster has emerged as a possible target.
“Yes, there’s list of players,” Wilder said. “There has to be. It could happen with players who are already with us. Who is to say one of our players isn’t doing fantastically well and a top-level club comes in? We have to make sure we are covered.”