Youngsters’ chance to soften loan blow

In the frame: Ryan Flynn hopes to play tomorrow
In the frame: Ryan Flynn hopes to play tomorrow
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SHEFFIELD United begin life without Matt Phillips and Billy Clarke tomorrow but, despite admitting Blackpool’s decision not to extend their month-long loans at Bramall Lane is a big disappointment, Danny Wilson remains adamant there are players already at his disposal capable of softening the blow.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup tie with Chris Wilder’s Oxford, the South Yorkshire club’s manager has hinted at further co-operation with Bloomfield Road following the success of his experiment with the attacking duo.

“Matt and Billy have both, I’m sure, taken a lot out of being here with us,” said Wilson. “The same as we’ve benefited from having them.

“Blackpool have got a big squad so who knows what might happen in the future? It’s impossible to say.”

A series of forays into the loan market has been cited as one of the major factors behind United’s disappointing results last season.

Having subsequently been relegated from the Championship, temporary transfers are a sensitive issue with some supporters. But Wilson, despite insisting those already on United’s roster must be granted preference when it comes to team selection, is adamant that loans can be a useful tool providing they are used to embellish rather than build a squad.

“I’m aware of the feelings about what happened before,” Wilson, speaking earlier this month, said. “I can’t comment on that because I wasn’t here.

“But what I will say is that, if they’re used in the right way, then of course loans can be beneficial.

“Providing you bring in the right people, like Matt and Billy, then they can be a good thing.”

Erik Tonne and Ryan Flynn are among those hoping to benefit from the departures of Phillips and Clarke while another loanee - Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Nathaniel Mendez-Laing - could come into contention after recovering from injury.

With Wilson acknowledging that cover for goalkeepers Steve Simonsen and George Long remains a priority, he must hope the young trio grasp this window of opportunity, thus reducing the need to strengthen elsewhere.

“Of course, the priority is always the players that are actually your own,” said Wilson. “Billy and Matt gave us a lot and had a big impact but we’ve got people here who have it within themselves to make an impact too.

“The ideal scenario, the one that everyone wants to see, is that they grasp the opportunity to do that. They are all quite capable of bringing something to the table.

“They’ve got to think ‘this is my chance to show what I can do and make it difficult not to keep me in the side’.”

Having made no effort to disguise the fact that he wants to combine success in League One with progress in the knockout competitions, Tuesday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat by Bradford City was a bitter disappointment for Wilson.

With last season’s relegation from the Championship squeezing United’s finances, he will be hoping tomorrow’s first-round meeting with Oxford marks the start of a long run in this celebrated tournament.

“Oxford will have seen our result (against City) and been absolutely delighted by that,” Wilson said. “Were some home truths said in the dressing room? What do you think? Of course there were.”