Striker hunt: Sheffield United close in on Bradford City’s James Hanson

Billy Sharp of Sheffield United celebrates scoring his team's first goal. (Picture: Jamie Tyerman/Sportimage)

Billy Sharp of Sheffield United celebrates scoring his team's first goal. (Picture: Jamie Tyerman/Sportimage)

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Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder wants Bradford City striker James Hanson to bolster the Blades’ League One title charge.

United submitted an official bid for the 29-year-old striker last week and Hanson was left out of City’s squad which drew with Millwall on Saturday.

Billy Sharp of Sheffield United celebrates scoring his teams first goal of the game during the League One match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: January 21st, 2017. Pic Jamie Tyerman/Sportimage

Billy Sharp of Sheffield United celebrates scoring his teams first goal of the game during the League One match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: January 21st, 2017. Pic Jamie Tyerman/Sportimage

Wilder is hoping to add him to a striker pool which boasts 18-goal Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke, Caolan Lavery, Matt Done and Marc McNulty.

“If people think we’re in the market to write a cheque for £1m or £500,000, we are not” said Wilder. “The picture has changed on signings. It’s a difficult window, we understand that, because people use inflated prices.

“Yes, we have put a bid in for James Hanson.

“Whether or not that’s accepted, we’ll have to wait and see. If it is then great, I’ll tell you then why I think he’ll be good for us.

I believe in the players, but they are not exempt from criticism.

Chris Wilder

“But until then, he’s somebody else’s player. If it’s not accepted then okay, we move on.”

Hanson joined City from non-league Guiseley in 2009, and has scored nearly 100 goals in 335 appearances for Stuart McCall’s side.

Unconfirmed reports last night suggested a fee had been agreed, and the player was in talks with the Blades over a move to South Yorkshire.

On Saturday, Wilder was left fuming with his goal-shy strikers after dominating their game against Gillingham, but forced to settle for a draw after spurning a glut of chances.

Kieron Freeman of Sheffield United celebrating scoring his team's second goal (Picture: Jamie Tyerman/Sportimage)

Kieron Freeman of Sheffield United celebrating scoring his team's second goal (Picture: Jamie Tyerman/Sportimage)

The point meant League One leaders United increased the gap over the chasing pack – both Scunthorpe United and Bolton Wanderers saw their games postponed – but Wilder is worried they are relying too heavily on captain Sharp.

The Blades striker opened the scoring on Saturday, his 18th goal of the campaign, but he has had little support from his fellow strikers in front of goal.

Other forwards used this campaign by Wilder are Done (two goals in 29 appearances), Lavery (two in 19), Clarke (three in 19) and McNulty (recalled from his loan spell at Bradford where he netted just once in 18 outings).

On Saturday, United had 16 shots, 13 corners, while the visitors netted from their only two efforts on target.

“The captain has scored 17 or 18 goals,” said Wilder. “How we don’t have anybody else alongside him on 14 or 15 is a mystery to me.

“None of them have managed to grab the opportunity, and I’ll say all of them; Done, Leon Clarke even though he wasn’t involved (Saturday) so perhaps I’m being a bit harsh there, Caolan and Sparky has come on.

“These boys get paid to score goals. Goals change games. If you ask me am I disappointed and frustrated then I’ll say 100 per cent.

“I’m not going to act like other managers have acted here. That’s the way I am. The players have been outstanding, but I’m not here to protect them. I believe in the players, they are good players, but they aren’t exempt from criticism. I’m not either.

“Listen, accept the plaudits when you go down town or whatever when people are patting you on the back.

“But also accept that, when you don’t perform to your ability, a little bit is going to get put on you. They’re men. Just get on with it.”

United started the game with Lavery and Sharp up front –Clarke was out injured and Done emplyed as a wing-back in place of the injured Daniel Lafferty – and the duo combined for the opening goal on 32 minutes. Sharp played a neat one-two with Lavery before drilling the ball beyond goalkeeper Stuart Nelson.

It was scant reward for an opening 45 minutes, which United dominated, and they were punished by two quickfire goals from Josh Wright after the break.

First he evaded United’s three centre-backs to poke home before a long throw was flicked on by Max Ehmer and Wright pounced.

United equalised when Lavery’s shot was spilled by the otherwise impressive Nelson – who thwarted the hosts on numerous occasions – and wing-back Kieron Freeman smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

The Blades had two ‘goals’ ruled out for offside, and substitute McNulty was twice denied by Nelson, who also got in the way of Sharp’s goal-bound header.

Defender Chris Basham said the players deserved their “kick up the backside” from Wilder at the full-time whistle. “The gaffer said a few home truths, he’s not happy at all,” said Basham. “He wasn’t happy and he was right, we were all arguing in there as well.

“It’s the right thing to do, we need a kick up the backside sometimes. We were lacklustre in the first 10 minutes (after half-time) and that’s when we got punished.

“We were outstanding in the first half, but he gave some home truths to the strikers that he has brought in. He’s not happy with them, and he’s not scared to tell them, which is good. We are really disappointed with how we came out in the second half. It hurts.”

The Blades have a quick chance to make amends when they host Fleetwood Town tomorrow at Bramall Lane.

Basham said: “We are top of the league, but everyone is disappointed like we are bottom of the league.”

Sheffield United: Moore, O’Connell, Ebanks-Landell, Basham, Freeman, Fleck, Duffy, Coutts, Done (Scougall 79), Sharp, Lavery (McNulty 72). Unused substitutes: Ramsdale, Wright, Riley, Wilson, Reed.

Gillingham: Nelson, Jackson, Ehmer, Herd (Osadebe 45), Oshilaja, List (Donnelly 57), Hessenthaler (Byrne 84), Wright, Wagstaff, Dack, McDonald. Unused substitutes: Knott, Hadler, Dickenson, Emmanuel-Thomas.

Referee: B Toner.

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