Chris Basham is poised to commit his future to Sheffield United, manager Chris Wilder has revealed, as the Championship leaders schedule contract talks with other leading members of Bramall Lane's first team squad.
Confirmation that Basham is set to extend his stay in South Yorkshire comes as a major boost for United as they prepare to enter a critical stage of the season, beginning at Nottingham Forest this weekend.
As The Star reported last month, the 30-year-old centre-half has indicated he wants to remain in South Yorkshire after excelling under Wilder's leadership. Fellow defenders Kieron Freeman and Enda Stevens are also set to be invited to the negotiating table as they approach the final 18 months of their present deals, while Paul Coutts and Jack O'Connell could also be recognised for their recent performances.
"I should imagine Bash will get concluded pretty soon," Wilder said. "We've spoken to his agent.
"What Bash brings to the table is pretty plain to see. He's loving his football, especially over the last two and a bit seasons hopefully. He's got a big part to play in the future, fingers crossed, and we want that continuity."
Basham, a free signing from Blackpool, has won the League One title and reached the semi-final of the EFL Cup since joining United in 2014. Although he will miss the visit to the City Ground through suspension, Basham is expected to be recalled for next week's derby against Sheffield Wednesday after appearing in all of the club's 16 games so far this term.
With financial constraints forcing him to adopt a strategic approach behind the scenes - United have spent relatively little compared to the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Forest and Leeds - Wilder continued: "Very rarely will we allow a contract to run down to the final 18 months unless the boy concerned doesn't want to be here.
"I should imagine others will get looked at during the build-up to Christmas, which is going to be around that 18 month period. I think this is a good place to be and a good place to be playing your football. It's a great club to be a part of."
United have prepared for Saturday’s trip to Forest two points ahead of second-placed Leeds, who are above Middlesbrough and Norwich City on goal difference.
With Basham set to watch the match from the stands, Wilder is hoping John Egan and Mark Duffy both prove their fitness after missing the win over Wigan Athletic due to injury.
"John will hopefully be ready for Saturday, and Mark Duffy as well," he said. "We want to be at full strength, but we will give them as much time as possible to make that decision."