The advantage Sheffield United may have in any battle with Nottingham Forest for Manchester United midfielder James Garner

The relationship Sheffield United strengthened with Manchester United over the loan signing of Dean Henderson will play in the Blades’ favour if they decide to formally enter the race for another of the Premier League giants’ top youngsters, James Garner.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:12 pm

United have identified 20-year-old Garner as a potential target this summer, as Blades boss Slavisa Jokanović looks to strengthen his midfield following the departures of John Lundstram and Ethan Ampadu, who occasionally played in the engine room last season as the Blades were relegated from the Premier League.

With less than a month to go until the summer transfer window closes, there is also still speculation about the future of Norwegian midfielder Sander Berge after his return from a troubling hamstring injury last season.

Jokanović has already signalled that the majority of his business this summer is expected to be conducted in the loan market, although there is cash available to spend if the right opportunity comes up.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ben Davies, of Liverpool, is another defensive target, and Garner is thought to feature on a list of names drawn up by United’s recruitment team as they look to subtly reshape a squad capable of challenging for an instant return to the top-flight.

Garner has previously spent time on loan at Watford and Nottingham Forest last season, and Forest are also hoping to bring the midfielder back to the City Ground after he scored four goals in 20 league appearances in his half-season.

United certainly enjoy a good relationship with their counterparts from Manchester, boosted by the success of Henderson’s two loan spells at Bramall Lane.

James Garner of Manchester United attempts to tackle Halil Dervisoglu of Brentford (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Henderson arrived in South Yorkshire having never played higher than League One, and returned to his parent club two years later as an established Premier League goalkeeper.

He was later capped by England and was initially named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for this summer’s European Championships, before injury forced him out and he was replaced by United’s Aaron Ramsdale.

Old Trafford officials are keen to expose their top young talents to the pressures of professional football – meaning a potential promotion battle with the Blades may tip the scales in their favour if they firm up their interest in Garner.

James Garner has played in Manchester United's pre-season friendlies against Derby County and Brentford (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Garner spent time on loan at Nottingham Forest last season (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)