SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson has failed in a bid to bolster his squad with a loan signing ahead of today’s FA Cup encounter with Oxford United.
Striker Billy Clarke and winger Matt Phillips returned to Blackpool after completing one-month loan deals in Tuesday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat against Bradford City.
The Blades also have issues in defence, especially at left-back, unless Scunthorpe United allow loanee Marcus Williams to play this afternoon.
With summer signing Lecsinel Jean-Francois away on international duty with Haiti, Williams’s absence would be a major setback to the Blades’ hopes of progressing to the next round.
Wilson still has the option of switching Matt Lowton from rightback and playing Elian Parrino, although the Argentinian struggled to impress on his first start of the season against Bradford.
“There was an area we were looking at – but nothing came to fruition,” admitted Wilson yesterday. “We got very close to something on Thursday night but it fell through.”
Neither Clarke nor Phillips had permission to play in the FA Cup and Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has blocked moves by the Blades to extend the loan deal.
Phillips scored six goals in his last six games for the Blades and, along with Clarke, injected some much needed pace into the Blades attack. Wilson, however, insists that his teams do not have to rely purely on pace.
“I don’t want to get blinded by the area of pace,” he said. “It’s not a priority for us. We have technically good players and we saw what good players we had at the beginning of the season. It’s no good having someone who is lightning quick if they don’t know how to play football. It’s a nice weapon to have but it’s not paramount.”
Wilson warned that performances must improve in the wake of the Bradford defeat and held a training ground inquest into the result.
“We had a long meeting and analysis and got some very good feedback,” he said. “The players know my feelings and those of the staff about areas of concern and what we are not doing as well as we can.
“We are not bothered about ‘playing well’. These competitions are about scrapping, rolling your sleeves up and getting through a tie. It was a very good game against Bradford but the bottom line is getting through a tie and that’s what we did not see through. There are lots of ways to finish a game, not necessarily wasting time, and we have to take that on board and have it in our locker.
“It doesn’t have to be the last minute, it can be at times when teams are getting on top of you,” he added. “You have to do certain things and we have to recognise that better than we have been doing.”
Although the League One Blades are favourites to win today’s game against League Two Oxford, Wilson stressed that there is no room for complacency.
“Expectation will be greater because a lot of people will see it as a ‘good tie’ and an ‘easy tie’ but how can you ever have one of them when this competition has the tradition it has?” he asked.