In a statement designed to place the likes of Zak Brunt, Iliman Ndiaye and Femi Seriki on red alert, the Serb confirmed he will change the recruitment strategy drafted by Bramall Lane’s scouting department should a Steelphalt Academy graduate impress.
An attacking midfielder and centre-half are United’s top priorities at present, as they prepare for August 7th’s Championship opener against Birmingham City. But with Jokanovic also expected to reprofile other areas of the team he inherited earlier this month, the former Yugoslavia international is challenging graduates of United’s Steelphalt Academy youth programme to demonstrate they are better than some of the targets he has identified.
Acknowledging talks with prospective new signings are still at an early stage, Jokanovic said: “I always check to see how these deals are doing. But, and this is very important to remember, a young player can also come through and change things.
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“Situations like this, especially because we are so early (in pre-season) can alter because they are fluid. If someone comes through then, like I say, we change. No problem.”
Relegated from the Premier League last season, United’s determination to regain top-flight status at the first attempt is likely to see Jokanovic focus on experience rather than potential before next month’s deadline.
With Sander Berge still expected to depart, despite being told by Jokanovic he should consider remaining in South Yorkshire for another 12 months at least, United are pursuing several lines of enquiry. Tom Cairney, who played under Jokanovic at Fulham, has been linked with a move north but United accept persuading the Londoners to do business - particularly at a price they can afford - is unlikely.
However, the rigors of an EFL campaign mean vacancies exist across the squad with Simon Moore, Phil Jagielka and John Lundstam all leaving United at the end of their contracts. In order to make the most effective use of the funding which has been placed at his disposal, Jokanovic would prefer to fill these with home grown players.