Chris Wilder wants newcomers to give Sheffield United added flexibility

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder wants to sign three new players before the end of the January transfer window.
Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder.Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder.
Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder.

The Blades have already extended the services of on-loan defensive duo Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Daniel Lafferty, and now Wilder wants to bolster his squad.

He is looking to recruit two wide players and a striker as the League One leaders prepare to defend their place at the the summit.

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Having seen on-loan winger Harry Chapman return to Middlesbrough due to injury, and Reece Brown exit this week for Bury, Wilder needs replacements.

Plus, he is keen to strengthen his forward options despite boasting arguably the best strike department in League One, with the likes of Billy Sharpe, Leon Clarke, Matt Done and Caolan Lavery at his disposal.

Wilder believes new additions will allow him to change formations, if needed, as the Blades target automatic promotion.

“We are looking in a few areas,” confirmed Wilder. “We need someone who can play out wide, can cover the full-back area, left and right, and someone at the top of the pitch.

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“We have lost Reece Brown and Harry Chapman, so can we bring two in to cover those two?

“We can’t rush them, there is still negotiations to be done on a couple (of targets).

“We are fairly confident we can make those deals happen, and if they don’t we still have contingency plans if we don’t get our No 1 targets. We have started with a shape for quite a while now, but are not scared to change it and start with something different.

“It would be arrogant of me, and I won’t do it, to think we won’t be challenged by other teams.

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“Southend changed their shape against us; we have to be ready and not scared to change our shape from the start, and during the game.

“Teams might try and work us out, and if they do stop us, we have to be ready – tactically clued in – and have players who can play different positions.

“That’s what we are trying to do, have enough players for different formations and systems.”

Wilder – who confirmed he will not be recalling John Brayford from his season-long loan spell at Burton Albion – was delighted at retaining Ebanks-Landell and Lafferty.

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Centre-half Ebanks-Landell has extended his loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers until the summer, while Lafferty was due to sign a permanent deal from Burnley last night.

“Ethan and Danny had been here for half the season and we wanted for them to be here for the remainder of the year,” said Wilder.

“There was an opportunity to take Dan on a permanent and we have taken it, he has done ever so well.

“We didn’t want to go looking for another left-back or centre-half, it would have taken time for those players to come in and adjust. It was important to keep the continuity.

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“Danny and Ethan now have to keep playing well because we have some good options.

“We don’t want robots at the club, every player has their own personality, but Danny just gets on with the job.

“So does Ethan, although he gets a little bit more limelight with the goals he scores. Danny has been just as important for us.

“He just gets on with it and ends up playing 35-40 games per season; they are the type of players you want. Trains well, you know what you are getting, and there’s no spike in their performances.

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“He’s had a career, been at Burnley a few years and got in the national side.

“Ethan is here until the end of the season and I think that’s massive news for us.

“We have worked hard to get him. Mentally now he knows he is with us until the end of the season.

“It’s been the talk of everybody, that it was vital we kept hold of Ethan, and joining until the end of the season is great news for us all.”

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Wilder, who made his Blades debut as a player 30 years ago this week and says: “It seems a lifetime away”, takes his League One leaders to Walsall tomorrow.

The Saddlers have already beaten United twice this season at Bramall Lane, in the league and Football League Trophy, and Wilder is desperate to avoid an unwanted hat-trick.

“We have been beaten twice by Walsall this season,” he said. “They will be looking to become one of the only teams to have beaten us three times.

“Hopefully we can learn from the league game in how to tackle them.

“We are really looking forward to the game.

“The players are relishing the challenge, the next game, and enjoying their position at the top of the division. They want to hold onto that.”