What Chris Wilder said on Oliver Arblaster's Sheffield United future as breakthrough attracts transfer interest

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Oliver Arblaster’s Sheffield United emergence has not gone unnoticed amongst other top clubs after Blades’ relegation

Chris Wilder remains hopeful that Oliver Arblaster enjoys a “long and successful” career at Sheffield United after emerging as one of the few positives from a nightmare season for his boyhood club. The academy product, who only turned 20 earlier this year, has cemented his place in the Blades’ XI and was named their captain recently with Jack Robinson injured.

It has been a fairytale Premier League impact for a young man who started the season on loan at Port Vale in League One with a 7-0 defeat at Barnsley. He has not looked an inch out of place in the top-flight, despite his lack of experience at this level, and has already been earmarked as a key man in United’s big summer rebuild.

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But his emergence has not gone unnoticed elsewhere, with a number of top clubs understood to be tracking his progress at Bramall Lane. United strengthened their position by tying down Arblaster to a new contract earlier this year, which runs until 2028, and it would take a head-turning offer to convince the Blades to cash in on one of their prized assets this summer after relegation.

Wilder agreed recently about the need to keep Arblaster at Bramall Lane, and “build around him. We understand the fabric of the game and the way the game moves, but certainly, for us it’s ‘career here’ and he understands that as well. He will understand it. He's a smart boy. He'll get his head down and knows he has to play well to stay in the team as well. He won't take any liberties. He's a humble boy and he's starting his career. Hopefully it's a long and successful one at Sheffield United.”

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Two-thirds of United’s starting midfield at Newcastle United on Saturday was made in Sheffield, with Arblaster and long-time teammate Andre Brooks, while another city-born Blades fan Louie Marsh was on the bench. Young players get no extra favours for coming from the Steel City or supporting United, but it is an extra dimension to their game that Wilder - whose own association with United is well-documented - can only see being an advantage.

“You don't have to live a mile and a half away, at Manor Top or Hackenthorpe,” said Wilder. “You don't have to be like Billy Sharp, from Pitsmoor or whatever. The club does pull you in. It pulled players in when I played. Brian Deane and Tony Agana and Simon Tracey and so many who still live around the area. And look even before that - the best player in the club's history [Londonder Tony Currie] isn't from Sheffield. Ted Hemsley and the likes of those boys.

“You don't have to live a stone's throw away but you do get connected. But we have to try and dominate our area and we are doing that at the moment. That is the benefit of being good at academy level. We've cast the net wider before, like Iliman, David Brooks, Che Adams. But the feel of two or three Sheffield boys in and around the group cements that message that we're all trying to get into the players that are new to the group.”

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