Sheffield United’s relegation rivals sign “undoubted Premier League quality” to boost bid for survival

Blades’ rivals sign “undoubted Premier League quality” to boost survival hopes
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Sheffield United’s relegation rivals Luton Town have boosted their hopes of surviving in the top-flight this season with the free agent signing of a man their manager believes has “undoubted Premier League quality.” Luton have signed former England midfielder Andros Townsend on a short-term deal at Kenilworth Road until January.

Townsend was released by Everton last summer, alongside Tom Davies who subsequently joined United, but hasn’t played since March 2022 due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Depending on how quickly he can get up to speed, he could face the Blades at Bramall Lane on Boxing Day in what could be a crunch clash in the battle for survival. Rob Edwards’ side are currently 17th in the table but just three points ahead of the rock-bottom Blades.

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“Andros has undoubted Premier League quality, which he has shown in this league and on the international stage,” said boss Edwards. “Of course, he has had a difficult period with injury through no fault of his own – and we wouldn’t be able to sign him if he’d played in the last 18 months. However, we’re in a position to help each other. He can come in and give everything, bring out those technical qualities to help us and we can give him a platform to show everyone what he’s all about.

“He adds more competition at the top end of the pitch – an area we know at this level you need to come out on top in that battle. He’s also got that bit of magic and hopefully we can get the most out of him. He’s been brilliant and his attitude has been phenomenal. He’s a humble, hard-working individual that we will benefit from having at the training ground on a weekly basis. Young players are going to look up to him and think: ‘They are the standards I need to be at’. He’s been impeccable.”

Townsend, who won 13 caps for England and also played for Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur before moving to Everton, said: “Luton are my local team - I live 20-25 minutes away so I’ve kept my eye on their progress and watching the Championship play-off final and see them win promotion was great for the club. I never thought I’d pull on the Luton shirt, so it’s a huge honour to play again in the Premier League for this club and hopefully get help this club get as many points as we can and see where it takes us.”

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Luton also signed Ross Barkley on a free transfer over the summer to add some much-needed Premier League experience and will hope that both deals work out better for them than the Davies gamble has for United. After taking time to get up to speed following pre-season without a club, Davies looked impressive away at West Ham recently but then picked up an injury in training which is expected to keep him on the sidelines - in the latest of a series of injury blows of late for boss Paul Heckingbottom.