Blades and Long set for talks over new contract

Mark Duffy, playing last season on loan at Burton, will join the Blades.
Mark Duffy, playing last season on loan at Burton, will join the Blades.
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Chris Wilder insists Sheffield United will not break the bank to keep George Long – and says the club have offered him a ‘competitive’ new deal to stay.

Wilder will meet with Long, 22, and his representatives today, with the Blades having tabled the keeper – who made 38 appearances for the club last term – with fresh terms which they believe are fair and appropriate.

Expecting the situation to become clearer following discussions today, Wilder said: “George is coming back (today). He has been offered a contract and so he’s got a decision to make. The ball is in his court.

“I feel the club have offered him a competitive contract in line with our pay structure and where his career is at the moment. So it is over to him and his agent.

“I am not going to stick a gun to his head, if he declines it. If he takes it, then great. He will be working with us in pre-season.”

United last night announced the double signing of Birmingham City winger Mark Duffy and Bury left-back Chris Hussey as Wilder’s rebuilding starts to take shape.

While getting Long to sign a new deal is very much one of Wilder’s priorities in the early stages of his Blades reign, the 48-year-old has also freshened up his squad by releasing 10 players and transfer listing another seven, including Dean Hammond, Martyn Woolford and Paul Coutts.

Moving on some players will prove more problematic than others, with Hammond recently triggering a clause entitling him to a permanent contract when his loan from Leicester City expired last month – with Wilder subsequently placing him on the list.

Wilder is philosophical about his chances of moving on players, but is hopeful of activity.

He added: “Out of that list, there might be two or three that might go. Whether they do deals with the club financially in terms of a pay-off or settlement, we will see – they are not part of my plans though.

“I will look at every individual situation on its merits. We were decisive early on – if they do not go and we need to use them, then we will look at that. But I would expect two or three to go.

“It is nothing personal with them or the lads we have let go.

“They are professionals and I would expect them to act as such. I have got to look after the club and any footballer worth his salt wants to be playing on a Saturday and Tuesday. So hopefully, there will be a compromise.”