Sheffield United: David McGoldrick's claims to a contract are becoming impossible to ignore following another impressive pre-season display, this time against Mansfield Town

David McGoldrick also impressed against Bradford City
David McGoldrick also impressed against Bradford City
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Other than charging towards the touchline and bellowing "Sign me" at the bench, it is difficult to imagine what more David McGoldrick could have done to demonstrate he wants to join Sheffield United.

The former Ipswich Town attacker, four days after bamboozling Bradford City into submission during last week's friendly at Valley Parade, celebrated the second game of his trial with another irresistible display.

On this occasion, and much to Mansfield Town's credit, it was not enough to secure the visitors' fourth straight win of a pre-season campaign Chris Wilder hopes will lay the foundations for another play-off challenge. But after the manager expressed his dissatisfaction with various aspects of United's display - "I thought they (Mansfield) were better. They deserved to win." - it did elicit an admission he will almost certainly be offered a contract providing the sums add up.
"I thought David showed his class out there again," Wilder said, before complaining too many of McGoldrick's team mates did anything but. "There's never been any doubts about his ability. The thing is, as I've made clear all along, we're not a club that can just throw money at it. We've got to make sure everything fits into place and that we stick to our budget."
With John Egan, United's latest new signing, remaining on the bench, McGoldrick's display became the biggest talking point of a fixture Wilder's men could, make that would, have won but for a tendency to over-elaborate. Graceful, intelligent and possessing a deceptive turn of pace, the 30-year-old spent the afternoon trying to make things happen when he had the ball and assessing the possibilities when he did not. It was a display which deserved a goal and, but for Conrad Logan's acrobatics midway through the first-half, one would surely have arrived. Crucially, given his fitness issues last term at Portman Road, McGoldrick also rolled with the punches as Mansfield, urged on by their manager David Flitcroft, posed a serious physical threat.
"David has been training with Nottingham Forest's under-23's," Wilder continued. "He's not done too much work with us, three days at most, but he's enjoying being here and we're enjoying having him. I spoke to several people who know him before he came in and I've spoken to several who know him since. He's from Nottingham and his family were always based there. So, who knows, that commute (to Suffolk), which can easily turn into a five hour drive, could have been the factor behind those?"
Wilder was less charitable when it came to assessing United's contribution to a fixture which, despite failing to produce a goal, provided plenty of entertainment. Mark Duffy and Billy Sharp also went close before the interval while substitutes Ricky Holmes and Ryan Leonard spurned opportunities after the break. Predictably, with former United players Jacob Mellis, CJ Hamilton and Otis Khan among their ranks, Mansfield were determined to prove a point and grew in stature as the contest progressed. In truth, United were not as compliant as Wilder made out although it will do them no harm whatsoever to be reminded of their responsibilities ahead of Tuesday's game against Internazionale.
"Listen, I understand it happens at times; that people think because they're in the Championship they can relax in games like that," Wilder said. "It doesn't happen to us often but that doesn't mean I like it when it does."

Mansfield Town: Logan (Olejnik 73), Pearce (Gibbens 82), Preston, White, Benning (Atkinson 73), Hamilton, Bishop (MacDonald 45), Mellis (Butcher 61), Khan (Sterling-James 61), Walker (Angol 45), Davies (Graham 79). Not used: Digby.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Freeman (Baldock 61), Basham, Stearman, O'Connell, Stevens, Evans (Leonard 61), Fleck (Lundstram 61), Duffy (Lavery 81), McGoldrick (Holmes 61), Sharp (Clarke 61).
Subs: Moore, Egan, Norrington-Davies.
Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorkshire)