United battle as rival clubs join race for Billy

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DANNY Wilson last night hinted he is not the only manager interested in signing Blackpool’s Billy Clarke.

Wilson, who has guided Sheffield United to second in the League One table, is a long-standing admirer of the Irish striker after capturing him on loan earlier this season.

Speaking ahead of today’s visit to leaders Charlton Athletic, Wilson dismissed claims that John Fleck’s arrival at Bloomfield Road means Clarke is inevitably destined for Bramall Lane.

“Billy is someone we rate,” said Wilson. “There’s no point in saying otherwise because we wouldn’t have brought him here in the first place if we didn’t.

“But he’s Blackpool’s player and so they will decide what happens. I don’t think we’ll be the only option Billy is likely to have either.”

Clarke has played only 28 minutes of football since returning to Blackpool following his month long stay in South Yorkshire.

With Clarke’s contract set to expire this summer, the Championship club are unlikely to dissuade potential buyers from lodging bids.

Especially as Fleck’s presence means Clarke is unlikely to be deployed in a deeper lying role.

Nevertheless, Wilson knows the 24-year-old would be keen on discussing a return to United when the opportunity arises.

Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, yesterday spoke of his delight at securing Fleck’s services.

“He is a lovely lad, bubbly and full of enthusiasm,” Holloway said.

“He is also very talented and hopefully we can work together to try and improve his prospects.

“John has potential and he also has a very good left foot.”