Absence of Coutts changes Sheffield United's plans for window

MANAGER Chris Wilder is awaiting confirmation of Sheffield United's budget for the January transfer window after admitting he wants to make 'three or four' additions to keep the club on track for the Premier League.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).

The Blades, fresh from romping to the League One title with 100 points last term, are enjoying their best start to a second tier season in more than a decade.

Just one point separates United from the automatic promotion places after the opening 18 games yielded a dozen victories.

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It is a promising position that Wilder is determined to build upon, hence his desire to strengthen come the new year.

“The January window will be interesting,” said the 50-year-old to The Yorkshire Post. “There will be a lot of activity in the division, given the prize at stake.

“We aren’t looking for many changes, but it is important we boost the squad. It gives the lads a little lift, too.

“I have said we would like to bring three or four players in and maybe two or three will go out. That will keep the (squad) numbers the same, but up the quality in certain areas.”

Talks have taken place about the club’s plans for the window, which have had to be amended slightly since Paul Coutts was ruled out for the season with a broken leg.

“We need to bring another midfield player in,” added the United chief. “Before Couttsy, we were looking to possibly strengthen an area where a player could play a couple of positions, including central midfield.

“But now we are down to two and Samir (Carruthers) has played more as a (number) ‘10’ than a central midfielder. Chris Basham can play in there, but he has done outstandingly well at centre-half. So we are down in numbers there.”

As Wilder suggests, January is likely to be a pivotal month in a division where many clubs spent big last summer. Ruben Neves, for instance, cost Wolverhampton Wanderers £15.8m, marginally more than Middlesbrough paid for Britt Assombalonga.

Asked about United’s likely budget come the new year, Wilder replied: “It is totally up to them (the board). Managers always want as much as possible to play with.

“I just respect what I am given. There has been talk about numbers. But how much there is for January is left totally to the owners.

“I don’t know what the finances are. Talking budgets, I think we are the 19th or 20th highest in the division. With the money we have brought in – whether it is historic sell-ons or player sales we have done such as Che (Adams) or Dominic (Calvert-Lewin) – I think we are in a healthy position.”

Asked if United’s transfer dealings under him were in the black, Wilder replied: “Most certainly. That is not chucking the owners under a bus.

“Kevin (McCabe) has put a lot of money in over the last 20 odd years. I will never criticise what they do because it costs a lot of money to run a Championship football club, or any football club. It is not a cheap hobby. It does cost money.”

Last season’s sales of Calvert-Lewin to Everton and Adams to Birmingham City brought in around £3.3m, while Kyle Walker’s £50m summer move from Tottenham Hotspur to Manchester City is also understood to have boosted the Bramall Lane coffers thanks to a sell-on clause inserted when the full-back moved to White Hart Lane in 2009.

Tomorrow, Adams is expected to face United for the first time since his switch to St Andrews in the early months of Wilder’s reign.

“He wanted to go,” said the Blades’ chief about a player signed from Ilkeston in 2013. “It was the same with Dom (who joined Everton last January). I didn’t want people who didn’t want to be here.

“I was new in the job and I had to put a marker down. There was no big falling out. He is an opposition player now and he might get a little ripple at the start, but, after that, he won’t be getting any favours from our players. Or, I would hope, our fans. “

Adams will return to Bramall Lane as the Blues’ top scorer this season with five goals, three of which came in a League Cup first-round victory over Crawley Town.

“He worked okay for the short period he was here,” added Wilder, who will be hoping Enda Stevens and Leon Clarke each avoid a fifth booking of the season tomorrow due to the cut-off for a one-game ban being next week.

“I suppose (Adams) was looking at it thinking the club had been in that division for six years. He had been there the last three of those and hardly played and had a chance to go to a top end Championship side.

“He has got no affiliation to Sheffield United, has he? It is not like he has been here since he was 10 years old and come all the way through the ranks.

“He is a footballer who wanted it to happen, his agent wanted it to happen and Gary (Rowett, then Birmingham manager) wanted to take him.

“He made that perfectly clear so we tried to do as much as we could without getting our pants pulled down. We got backed into a corner a little bit.”