Chris Wilder wants characters and captains for his next Sheffield United side

Chris Wilder wants characters and captains to dominate the next Sheffield United side he is building.

It looks as though the Blades are heading for next season's Championship although following up victory at Luton Town with another at home to Brighton and Hove Albion will raise hopes of the sort of unlikely escape Wilder the Sheffield United player was once involved in.

But regardless of what division they are in, the rebuild that started with the introduction of home-grown youngsters Andre Brooks and Will Osula in Wilder's first games back as manager in December will go through the gears this summer.

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The departures of Billy Sharp, Enda Stevens and John Fleck in the last two transfer windows have chipped further away at the core of Wilder's last Blades side and the pattern is set to continue with others out of contract in the summer.

Wilder is looking for players who can carry on what the team who took the club from League One to the top half of the Premier League started.

"You see it all clubs, at all the top clubs. if you take Liverpool, the club will move forward because the (James) Milners will go, the (Jordan) Hendersons, the (Virgil) van Dijks, the (Mo) Salahs will go but the others will know it's their responsibility to take that forward," said Wilder.

"Of course when you're signing players you go on ability, you go on physical attributes you need to be a professional footballer to play at the highest level and now you've got to go on what they're like as a player, can they grow, have they got leadership skills as well? It's an important aspect of the game.

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"It's never frightened me when we've signed a captain. We might have four or five captains out there.

LOST LEADER: Billy Sharp left Sheffield United last summer, and is now at Hull CityLOST LEADER: Billy Sharp left Sheffield United last summer, and is now at Hull City
LOST LEADER: Billy Sharp left Sheffield United last summer, and is now at Hull City

"It doesn't mean because you haven't got something wrapped around your arm you can't open your mouth and influence people – during the week, on matchdays and during a game.

"They all grow and some grow quicker than others but they have to take that up and move.

"We have to produce those individuals as well from an attitude and leadership point of view just as much as an ability point of view."

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Wilder's predecessor Paul Heckingbottom often talked about having that culture last season but a big influx of players new to the club and in most cases the Premier League – plus the departures he was anxious to avoid – diluted it.

REBUILD: Sheffield United manager Chris WilderREBUILD: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder
REBUILD: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

"In training sessions really you want to get to a situation where it's self-policed, I think every manager will say that," commented Wilder. "When you're just watching and a certain situation gets sorted out by senior players, you know you're on the right track. That's where we want to get to.

"It certainly is important for a club of our standing because we have to bridge the gap somewhere. We can't just have a team of 11 individuals who go out and win football matches willy-nilly. At the level we're playing we need to find something else.

"That's what I've been impressed about, the young players have got the traits of a Sheffield United player. There's no surprises what they're coming into because it's started off at an earlier age and quickly they're understanding what is acceptable and unacceptable from our point of view as a football club.

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"They're not all going to fit, they're all different characters, they're not all going to be best pals, I understand that.

"There's 25, 30 characters and you don't expect them all to get on but you expect respect.

"If they do form relationships, football relationships and relationships off the pitch, I'd encourage that. I should imagine the majority of times if they go for a coffee (together) they'll be talking about what they can do right, what they need to improve on and they're most probably talking about football as well.

"Recently I drove up Ecclesall Road and went into Costa Coffee and there were about 10 or 11 boys in the corner having a coffee together.

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"For me that's great, If they're together as a group off the pitch, you've got more chance of them being together on the pitch as well."

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