John Lundstram, Chris Basham and John Egan warned 'there is a limit' in Sheffield United contract talks

Chris Wilder has warned John Lundstram, Chris Basham and John Egan there is a limit to how much Sheffield United are prepared to offer them in new contracts, and he will not be pushed beyond it.

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Oliver Norwood, Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick have all signed new contracts since English football was suspended for the coronavirus pandemic, but talks with Egan, Basham and Lundstram are yet to be concluded.

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The Blades will not lose any on free transfers at the end of the month, but are anxious to reward and retain the trio. Manager Wilder warned there is a limit to how far they will go to do that, though, as football faces up to the financial damage of covid-19.

TALKS: Centre-backs Chris Basham and John Egan were offered new Sheffield United contracts before the coronavirus lockdown

“We put (contract) offers out there at the start and then they were paused, because I didn’t think it was right to be talking about new deals and improved financial situations when we were at that stage of the pandemic,” explained Wilder. “But after we got the green light to return to playing, I felt it was appropriate to kickstart those talks.

“We left the offers out there and we’re in the negotiation phase. I’ve mentioned a lot of times that I have a responsibility to the football club. Yes, the players want the best deals for them and that’s understandable. But there is a limit to how far we’ll go.”

Egan, Basham and Lundstram have all had impressive debut Premier League seasons, regular in a side which will go up to fifth in the table if they win at Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Although Lundstram's contract expires at the end of the month, the Blades have an option to extend by 12 months which they are sure to take, if only to protect their investment. Basham's deal runs until 2021, and fellow centre-back Egan is under contract for two more years.

Having managed clubs such as Northampton Town and Halifax Town badly scarred by financial mismanagement, Wilder is very conscious of the need to manage his boyhood club's resources carefully.

“Speaking to other managers in the Championship and what’s happening down there I’ve got a big responsibility to my football club to make sure we’re not in the state that some clubs are in at the minute,” said Wilder. “I’m involved in everything, I’m hands-on and I’m involved in the negotiations.

“We’re hopeful (the three players will stay) but if players don’t re-sign, then we’ll do the right thing by the football club.”

The Blades' success under Wilder has been built on continuity, which is why he is pleased to have tied down Norwood, Sharp and McGoldrick.

“It is important we have a strong dressing room, I think it is key,” he said. “It is set up by myself and the coaching staff but the players know the pillars and main ingredients of what is important in terms of being a successful football club.

“Through time that message from myself doesn’t have to be as loud as it was in the early stages of me being manager and is taken on board by the players. That is great, not hearing my voice all the time and coming from their peers.

“To keep that continuity is key but these players have earned these new deals through being good on the grass when the ball is rolling.

“As a manager you have to make decisions and be ruthless at times and form relationships with players that sometimes has to be ended. We have got that in us. Sentiment happens but these boys have deserved the uplift in the financial point of view and adding years to the contract.

“I am delighted all three have done so. There is more to come from all three and delighted they have committed to our football club for the next two or three years.”

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