Chris Wilder hoping for 'realism' as Sheffield United look to keep key players

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Chris Wilder hopes realism kicks in and the Sheffield United players stalling over new contracts commit to the club, but he has no concerns over Billy Sharp looking for fresh challenges.

John Lundstram and Enda Stevens are two of the regulars the Blades are in negotiations with over a new deal. With his contract expiring in the summer, Lundstram's situation is the more urgent.

Chris Wilder is hopeful Sheffield United can tie down key players in the coming weeks, as well as strengthening his squad

Chris Wilder is hopeful Sheffield United can tie down key players in the coming weeks, as well as strengthening his squad

Manager Wilder hinted at his frustrations, but expressed his confidence that the players want to stay at Bramall Lane after a terrific start to the season.

“This is a reward for two of three of them in terms of what they've done and there's a core group we want to keep together but that goes from club to agent now, I try to stay out of it,” commented Wilder.

“I'm sure the players do take an interest in their careers but it's sometimes a little bit annoying that in the past some of them don't. Agents are part of the connection but the players should have quite a big say as well, I'm a big believer in that. Sometimes it doesn't happen.

“The agents always try to get the best deal.

“I don't have the feeling that any of the players don't see their future at Sheffield United but as always in this day and age they know what other players are getting in the Premier League and unfortunately we're not in a situation where we can compete with any of the clubs above us.

“I'm sure part of it is that they'll want to stay but as always the agent will try to get the best deal for them. I'm okay with that as long as it's realistic and in line with where we are as a football club.

“In time there might be a bit of realism shown, the boys will sign and we can move on pretty quickly.”

Captain Sharp has only started one league game this season, and has only made three substitute appearances since October.

Wilder does not think the 33-year-old is getting itchy feet, though.

“What Billy's done for Sheffield United has been absolutely amazing, outstanding, he's been a fantastic skipper,” said the manager. “There have been enquiries from teams as always be when you see players of his quality not playing regular football, and other players.

“I've always been open with Billy and said that as long as I'm here it's his decision if he wants to look elsewhere for regular first-team football. He's happy at the moment.

“If he comes to me he says it might be time for him to consider (a move), we might have to consider that and do the best for Billy Sharp but at the moment he's part of our group.

“It's difficult to force his way past Mousset, McBurnie and McGoldrick the way he's played. We've got Callum Robinson who's one for the future and he's improving by the day even though he's not got a lot of game time. He's knocking on the door.

“We've got some good players and that's good for us as competition. Billy understands that, he's an experience player, but as far as I'm concerned he's not knocked on my door and he wants to be part of this incredible journey we've had. Hopefully there's a little bit more of it in the second part of the season.”

Wilder is looking to bring two or three players in during January, and move a similar number on, but it would defeat the object to lose any of his best players. Everton are thought to be interested in centre-back John Egan.

The Blades finish their programme for 2019 with a trip to Manchester City.

Wilder will assess the fitness and fatigue within his squad before picking his team.