Clough’s new nap hand can strengthen Blades’ promotion assault

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough (Picture: Nick Potts/PA).Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough (Picture: Nick Potts/PA).
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough (Picture: Nick Potts/PA).
NIGEL CLOUGH believes a busy transfer window has left Sheffield United with sufficient numbers and quality to cope with a punishing schedule in the promotion race.

The Blades, denied the chance to meet Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round by Tuesday’s defeat to Preston North End, have just two blank midweeks between now and the end of the season.

It is a legacy of the club’s run to the League Cup semi-finals and means United will play a minimum of 61 games this term.

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With the play-offs possibly boosting that number further, Clough spent the window bringing in several new faces.

John Brayford headed a list of new arrivals which also included Matty Done, Jason Holt, Paul Coutts and Kieron Freeman, while United also agreed new long-term contracts with Jamie Murphy and Terry Kennedy.

Clough said: “It is going to be a busy time, though maybe not as busy as we would have liked. We would have loved to still be in the FA Cup.

“But we hope what happened in the transfer window has given us the depth we will need. I was pleased with the five players we brought in. We needed a striker and Matty Done has got some goals this season. Hopefully, he can add that little bit of energy and spark that we were lacking.

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“He also knows the division and has been in the Championship with Barnsley.

“He was someone who had been very high on our list, almost top choice. He can give us an option out wide, too.”

Clough, in an attempt to give his leg-weary players a break, made 10 changes for the 2-0 victory over Swindon Town.

He then reverted to the side that had gone so close to reaching Wembley against Tottenham when Preston visited Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

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Now, with the five new arrivals – who were all unavailable against North End – coming into the equation, the Blades’ chief will be able to tweak his personnel rather than make wholesale changes.

He added: “We will be Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday from now until the end of the season. While there will be changes, it won’t be anywhere near what it was like on Saturday.”

On Murphy and Kennedy committing to the club, Clough added: “Getting the lads tied down to contracts is as important as getting new ones in. By getting Jamie tied down, everyone is sorted who needs to be.”

Asked if he was relieved to see the window shut with the likes of Louis Reed still at the club, Clough replied: “I could have understood if Louis had attracted attention. But he is not going anywhere, either.

“There are certain people you build the team around, Murphy and Reedy and people like that.”