The Blades released former England goalkeeper Richard Wright, French defender Jean Calve and former Burnley defender Stephen Jordan yesterday but only two more players, Rob Kozluk and Ryan France, have permanent contracts which expire this summer.
Seventeen senior professionals have deals which stretch into next season so, unless they opt to seek transfers, Adams will have limited room for maneouvre in the transfer market.
Confirming yesterday’s departures Adams said: “This is the start of a process that we will go through between now and the end of the season regarding players and their futures with a view to taking the club forward next season.”
The Blades have six players on loan deals until the end of the season – Nyron Nosworthy, Shane Lowry, Joe Mattock, Marcus Bent, Bjorn Helge-Riise and Elian Parrino – and it will be down to Adams to decide which of those are worth trying to keep.
The Blades manager was unwilling to talk about the future of others players yesterday – but is desperately hoping they have the quality to avoid the drop.
The Blades are seven points adrift of safety with only seven games to play but Adams has no intention of throwing the towel in yet.
Although time is running out, the next two games are at home, Middlesbrough tomorrow and Cardiff City on Tuesday, and Crystal Palace – the club they are trying to catch – have three of the next four on the road which may be a disadvantage.
“It’s not impossible to stay up, even if we lose on Saturday,” said Adams. “I am loathe to say it is the ‘last chance saloon’ because we could lose the next two and win the last five. It’s not going to be easy against Middlesbrough and Cardiff but we have an opportunity to pick up some points and we have to forget what the other teams are doing.”
The success of the club in reaching the FA Youth Cup final this week has thrown a fresh spotlight on youth. Although several of the players have been on the bench for the first team this season, Adams feels it would be wrong to throw untested youngsters into the battle for Championship survival.
“They are not ready for the first team yet,” Adams stressed. “It’s hard enough for some of the more experienced players to deal with the current pressure to get results without throwing it over to the kids. If our fate is sealed – and I’m not saying it will or it won’t be – we might consider it.”