Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder urges Blades players to follow his contract example

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield United presents John Fleck of with a memento to acknowledge his 150th appearance for the club (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)
Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield United presents John Fleck of with a memento to acknowledge his 150th appearance for the club (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)
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SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder is confident that his decision to sign a new deal will convince senior players to stay at Bramall Lane when they decide upon their own futures.

Last week, Wilder, 52, signed a new four-and-a-half year long-term contract to keep him at his boyhood club until the summer of 2024.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield United (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield United (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage)

In the short term, the Blades chief – whose side visit Arsenal tomorrow – is challenging his side to turn their ‘outstanding’ story in 2019-20 into a ‘brilliant’ one by the end of the campaign.

One key component of their stunning season so far is John Lundstram, who sees his deal expire in the summer, while fellow midfielder John Fleck is out of contract in the summer of 2021.

Lundstram’s deal contains a clause entitling the club to extend it by a further 12 months, while United plan to shortly open discussions with Fleck, who picked up an award from Wilder yesterday in recognition of his 150th appearance for the Blades.

Wilder remains relaxed regarding their contractual situation, with the club also seeking to tie down the futures of defenders Enda Stevens and John Egan.

Speaking to John, he loves it here and wants to stay.

Chris Wilder

The Blades chief said: “There are ongoing talks. It is always difficult to get players to sign in January. I should imagine there will be a lot more conversation when the window shuts. I am relaxed about it, it is a really good club. I committed last week and was delighted to do that and hopefully the players will follow in my path.

“I think my deal does give stability to everything.

“They have to make the decision and look after their careers. I have always said that players should take more ownership of their careers at times. But I have got no problems with agents or anything like that.

“He (Lundstram) has got an extension on his deal, an option. We will definitely take that up and we are confident John will re-sign. He has been outstanding for us.

“He did not play a lot of games (last year) but has been integral in our midfield three, keeping good players out.

“We are confident. John has not expressed a desire to go elsewhere. If people want to come and knock on my door because they do not see a future here, then we will look after the club.

“But as far as I am concerned, speaking to John, he loves it here and wants to stay, but there is always a negotiation.”

Wilder has confirmed there is no change regarding the situation with club captain Billy Sharp, subject of a fresh enquiry this week, believed to be from Scottish champions Celtic.

Several clubs have previously been linked with the 33-year-old including Derby County and Nottingham Forest, with Sharp also viewed as a back-up option by Leeds United if they fail to land Che Adams.

But the much-travelled forward has expressed no inclination to leave Bramall Lane due to a lack of game-time and remains happy at his boyhood club.

Wilder said: “I had another chat with Billy this week and mentioned another club that is interested. My stance has not changed. It is Billy’s choice.

“If Billy had given an indication, then that (a move) would have happened with the amount of calls we have had.”

Wilder also confirmed that he expects Leon Clarke and Kean Bryan to leave the club this month, while veteran defender Jake Wright will also head back out on loan after recently returning from Bolton Wanderers.

But the Blades chief will snub any loan offers for midfielders Luke Freeman and Ben Osborn.

Meanwhile, Wilder says he is eager to ‘move on’ following a fresh furore surrounding forward Oli McBurnie – who has been warned about his conduct by the Football Association after attending former club Swansea City’s draw at Cardiff City.

Club record signing McBurnie was spoken to by the governing body after being seen to make an obscene gesture while pictured with Swans’ fans at the Cardiff City Stadium for the televised South Wales derby last Sunday.

No further action has been taken.

Wilder confirmed: “I have spoken to him. We received a letter from the FA talking about Oli’s future conduct which is quite right, I believe.

“They are red hot on stuff like that, so for them not to take any other action speaks volumes for what it was.

“I can relate. There was a time when I was a player and a manager at other clubs, I would rush back to Sheffield to go and watch United, or away from home.

“I have had a word with Oli, but I have got no problem with him going to watch Swansea. He has got an obvious connection with that club.

“There is a big, big connection from when he was a young player going down there, taking his family down there, and how he integrated into the way of life of that football club.

“He made many great friends, so I have got no problem with that. It is quite refreshing that he wants to go and watch games of football, he wants to be involved in football.”