NIGEL CLOUGH is confident Sheffield United’s eye-catching cup exploits and promotion potential will prove a more attractive lure to any January transfer targets than a move to lower-ranked Championship clubs.
The cup specialists, who face Tottenham Hotspur in a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final later this month and are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup after providing the shock of the third-round weekend with a 3-0 win at top-flight outfit QPR, are working on several incoming deals.
One of the Blades’ chief priorities remains re-signing Brighton striker Chris O’Grady after his loan spell was cut short last month, with managing director Mal Brannigan having spoken to the Seagulls about him returning to Bramall Lane.
Any move for O’Grady, who netted his first goal in 12 games for Brighton at the weekend, will depend on the south coast club bringing in a replacement before sanctioning any fresh move.
Clough has a number of other targets, but was coy about links with Dundee United winger Gary Mackay-Steven and Walsall striker Tom Bradshaw yesterday.
Scottish international Mackay-Steven is out of contract in the summer and has expressed a desire to play south of the border, with the Terrors having already rejected a verbal offer of £150,000 from an English lower-league club this month.
While the Blades have been busy making cup headlines, Clough also feels his side still have every chance of securing automatic promotion from League One, despite currently being 15 points behind second-placed Bristol City.
And he believes that can tip the scales in beating off higher-division interest in his targets.
He said: “I think ourselves, Preston and Bristol City are probably more attractive than the bottom eight in the Championship.
“There is a real possibility of us getting promoted this season and players are seeing what we are doing in the cups as well and that helps attract players along with good results and everything.
“We could get a player in the next two weeks and if they are not cup-tied, they have got the potential of playing in a League Cup semi-final. That has got to be a reason to join as well.”
The Blades are waiting on developments regarding O’Grady and are hoping that patience proves a virtue after he was recalled last month by Brighton after Sami Hyppia left the club.
Clough added: “Things are progressing, but we are probably in the same situation as we were about six weeks ago when they wanted to get a striker in before they do anything. So we’ve got to be a bit patient.
“He knows we want him and what we feel about him.
“But he is Brighton’s player at the moment and unless they say otherwise, we will have to live with that.”
On the outgoing front, Clough has revealed that out-of-favour forward Chris Porter is the subject of interest from Scottish clubs, while a club have also enquired about the services of Neill Collins, who is currently sidelined with a calf niggle.
He said: “We have had enquiries for Chris and it is up to Chris where he wants to go. We have had a couple (of clubs) north of the border, so it will be very much up to him where he wants to spend the second half of the season and maybe beyond.
“I think it will be a permanent move with Chris.”
Clough has also revealed that young striker Diego de Girolamo is in the process of finalising a contract extension and once that is out on the way, the door will be open for him to return to York City, where he impressed late last year for the Minstermen in a productive loan spell.
Clough said: “We will get his contract sorted out and then maybe get him back out for some more experience.
“I think he has had a good time at York and I am very happy for him to get back out there with Russ Wilcox, which will happen as and when he signs that deal.”