Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has confirmed he needs to strengthen his squad in January or risk seeing its chance of achieving back to back promotions slip away.
Wilder made the admission after United, missing a number of senior players through injury, illness and suspension, slipped to their fourth defeat in five outings following a 1-0 loss at Preston North End.
Drawing comparisons between the options at his disposal and those available to Alex Neil, Wilder said: “Any manager, at any level, would like to improve his squad.
“We need to improve in January, yes. When you look at Preston, and they’ve got 25 established Championship players who have played a lot of Championship games, that’s what we’re up against. They’re not one of the big hitters in this division, to be fair, but they are a solid club at this level.”
Despite succumbing to Jordan Hugill’s second-half strike, United remain sixth in the Championship table after winning the League One title last term.
But Wilder, who has made no secret of his desire to sign Southend’s Ryan Leonard when the transfer window reopens, insisted the absence of Paul Coutts, John Fleck, Mark Duffy and David Brooks did not excuse what he described as a “very poor” display after the break.
“This should hurt us because of the second-half performance,” he continued. “The goal we conceded and the decisions that we made. They made better decisions than us, when to press, when to drop off and when to hook it.
“The squad is what it is, that’s where it’s at. It’s up to other people to comment on it.”
“I think some may have taken their eye off the ball a little bit and, if that’s the case, they had better get ready,” Wilder added.
“They had better get ready for the consequences of taking your eye off the ball. There’s been a lot of plaudits coming our way so now we have to find the answer. Options are limited at the moment but we have to find a way.”