Chris Wilder has expressed his disappointment after failing to sign Ipswich Town's Martyn Waghorn but insisted Sheffield United should not be "embarrassed" by the centre-forward's decision to join Derby County instead.
United were prepared to make Waghorn the most expensive player in their history after submitting a bid, thought to be worth £4.8m plus add-ons, for the 28-year-old.
Despite also holding talks with Middlesbrough, who meet Wilder's team tonight, Waghorn underwent a medical at Pride Park yesterday despite County's refusal to meet his £10m valuation. With the transfer window closing in two days time, it means United are now expected to look towards the loan market as they attempt to bolster their attacking options.
"We can't be embarrassed that different clubs are at different stages of recruitment and are more powerful than us or have deeper pockets," Wilder said. "We have to accept that.
"I think he (Waghorn) would have been a good fit. We put a bid in, put our best foot forward and put our best foot forward in terms of wages too. But we knew if the other two clubs stepped in, we might be third in line. We want to get our number ones and wanted that deal to go through."
With United indicating they were prepared to increase their offer for Waghorn over the weekend, The Star understands they player's personal demands, coupled with Wilder's concerns about the potential implications of meeting them, ultimately scuppered their interest. Indeed, sources close to Portman Road last night indicated Waghorn was keen on a move to South Yorkshire until County made a financially superior proposal. Although it remains unclear exactly how much he will earn in the East Midlands, reports suggest it could be nearly £30,000 a week. With United preparing to enter contract talks with the likes of Chris Basham, Billy Sharp and potentially Jack O'Connell, breaking their wage structure could have limited Wilder's room for manoeuvre during the January window, when he hopes his squad will be challenging for the top six.
United, who were beaten by Swansea City on the opening weekend of the new Championship season, recently rejected a bid worth around £8m for O'Connell from Brighton and Hove Albion which, Wilder believes, marks the end of the Premier League club's interest.
"I don't think we'll see anything happening, in or out, before the end of the permanent window now," he said. "Then we've still got a few more weeks (to negotiate loans)."