Sheffield United's summer transfer priority as fans hold breath over key men contracts

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Chris Wilder opens up on big Sheffield United “challenge” after Premier League relegation

The summer departures of long-serving trio Chris Basham, George Baldock and Ollie Norwood not only leave three gaps in Sheffield United’s already-threadbare squad but a gaping chasm in the dressing room as well. The lack of leadership amongst United’s squad has never been more apparent than this season, which has seen United drop into the Championship having conceded a Premier League record number of goals and register just 16 points from their 38 games.

Being robbed of the services of Basham and Baldock for large parts of the season due to injury has surely played its part, while other key names and leaders such as John Egan and Oli McBurnie have also endured frustrating campaigns on the fitness front. The latter two players are also out of contract this summer but were not part of the emotional send-off given to Basham, Baldock and Norwood - plus goalkeeper Wes Foderingham and defender Max Lowe - against Spurs on Sunday, with further details about their futures potentially coming this week when United confirm the second part of their retained list.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Boss Chris Wilder has a tough enough job rebuilding a squad capable of challenging for promotion next season without a huge transfer budget, without the added aspect of strengthening the mentality of a group that has shown more than the odd sign of fragility during an admittedly-tough and bruising campaign. He has done it before, assembling a dressing room full of figures who can play but, arguably more importantly, possess a strong mentality. Now, he has to repeat the trick again.

"The atmosphere in the ground was first class and we started off on the front foot,” said Wilder of the Spurs game, after Ben Brereton Diaz and Cameron Archer squandered good chances in the first half. “But any sort of adversity, we don’t have enough to dig ourselves out of it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'd love to have had Chris Basham available, I'd love to have had George Baldock and John Egan available. I've got to say that I don't think I'd had been saying the same things over the period I'd been here if we had those boys in the team. We need a good team, technically and a coachable team. But from a mentality point of view we need strong characters and leaders. And that is going to be the challenge for me.”

United are understood to be confident that Rhys Norrington-Davies, Jayden Bogle and Ben Osborn are staying at Bramall Lane next season while Adam Davies is also set to resume his duties as United’s back-up goalkeeper after the departures of Foderingham and Jordan Amissah in the summer, and a decision to allow Ivo Grbic to leave when the transfer window opens.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.