Window of hope as Killa 'happy to stay'

NOTHING is ever certain in football.

Least of all when a transfer window is open.

But claims by Matthew Kilgallon's camp that the centre-half, despite attracting a flurry of interest from clubs on both sides of the border, is happy to commit himself to Sheffield United until at least the end of the season will be greeted with a sigh of relief both in the manager's office at Bramall Lane and also its boardroom.

Being forced to replace a player of his calibre would represent a major test of Kevin Blackwell's revamped scouting network while directors who are attempting to strike a delicate balance between sporting ambition and balancing the books – a hard task given the turbulent economic climate – can rest easy that the wisdom of their decision not to accept Kilgallon's wage demands will not be questioned until the end of a campaign which, despite some well-documented difficulties, is still rich with promise.

Given that qualifying for the Premier League solves a multitude of financial problems with the stroke of a pen, the effects of losing the former England under-21 international would first be felt on the pitch.

The resurrection of his partnership with Chris Morgan, whose combative qualities perfectly complement Kilgallon's more languid style, has been a driving force behind their climb to seventh in the Championship table.

Polar opposites, the two men's reputations have soared since United prised the latter away from Leeds in January 2007 and despite suffering the disappointment of being relegated from the top-flight later that term, they have established themselves as one of the most formidable double acts in the Football League.

Being able to draw upon their services for the next four months at least will renew Blackwell's confidence that his charges can mount a second successive challenge for Wembley. Privately, Newcastle, Kilgallon's most persistent suitors, remain convinced that he can be spirited away from South Yorkshire before deadline day.

But with Chris Hughton, Blackwell's counterpart at St James' Park, not to mention Celtic and Hull all adamant they must procure defensive reinforcements before then, what has prompted Kilgallon and his agent to issue such a statement?

There can be little doubt that, having made a grave mistake in allowing their client to conduct an ill-advised, clumsy interview with satellite television late last year, Kilgallon's representatives will have been aware of the need for some positive PR.

Whoever gave him the green light to speak openly about his ambition to forge a career at the highest level, particularly when neither results nor contractual negotiations were going well, underestimated the supporters ability to read between the lines.

No fan, however disgruntled they might be, takes kindly to their club being held to ransom.

Either deliberately or inadvertently.

United's decision to place a time limit on Kilgallon's sale has also forced the issue with both Blackwell and chairman Kevin McCabe insisting they would only do business on their terms.

Brinksmanship can be dangerous game if your opponent is single-minded and deadly serious. In the absence of an offer simply too good to turn down, United and Kilgallon have now given themselves valuable breathing space to consider their next steps.

Maintaining the status quo would appear to suit both.

If United go up then Kilgallon, whose deal expires in May, is likely to be suitably recompensed. If not then, as a free agent, new markets could open up.

What do you think? Add your comments below.


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