Sheffield United injury crisis puts outgoing transfers on hold as Paul Heckingbottom admits John Souttar interest

Paul Heckingbottom says outgoing transfers have been put on hold so as not to leave Sheffield United short-handed with 11 players missing 11 players.

Oli Burke has been linked with Blackburn Rovers amongst others but with his squad so depleted going into Sunday's AF Cup third-round tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Heckingbottom is wary about weakening it further.

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January transfer window: Ins and outs for Barnsley FC, Bradford City, Doncaster ...

Three new Covid-19 cases including goalkeeper Robin Olsen have added to injuries to the likes of Rhian Brewster, George Baldock and Lys Mousset.

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ON HOLD: Oli Burke will not be allowed to leave Sheffield United at the moment, despite interest in hmON HOLD: Oli Burke will not be allowed to leave Sheffield United at the moment, despite interest in hm
ON HOLD: Oli Burke will not be allowed to leave Sheffield United at the moment, despite interest in hm

"The problem we’ve got at the minute is that we can’t leave ourselves short with injuries and Covid, we've got even more out this week and that will be the overriding factor," said Heckingbottom, when asked about interest in Scotland forward Burke. "We’d be foolish to leave ourselves short.

"There’s not a chance anyone’s going out now. We’re in conversations about players in and out, and other clubs may be in the same position. January isn’t a great window to work in, there tends to be a lot of loans, but more clubs than us will be stretched for numbers.

"I’m not aware of an official move (for Brewster).

"We’ve had conversations about it and there has been interest in him but we have to look after ourselves and make sure we don’t leave ourselves short, and that’s the way it goes. We’re assessing day by day and week by week.

"There’s probably a number of clubs in a similar position. We need to make sure we have the players back and it could be towards the end of the window when things like that happen.

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"We have interest in players, we have got some good players so we expect that. The things we discuss remain private but I’ve been clear, we may need to use our players and while they’re here, their job is to do their best for Sheffield United. There’s been conversations, which always happen at this time of year.

“There’s another three missing, so 11 in total. It’s a good opportunity for the boys who are available.

“It’s not been ideal. We’re desperate for games, so I’m not going to moan about it. But it’s been a tough period for us with games being called off. We’re not going to take risks with people with the amount of games coming. So we have 11 missing at the minute.

“Game-time is key now. We have a plan but that changed Tuesday and again on Wednesday and will probably change again between now and the game. We’ll be ready and make sure we can get the game on. We’re looking forward to getting the games in.”

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Brewster is back in training but not yet match-fit, and goalkeeper Robin Olsen's recovery has been complicated by a false positive Covid test, but he has since

“We just want to get a team out and give them a game," said a frustrated Heckingbottom. "We used bits from the preparation last time against them but there’s not a lot of players who played in that game that’ll play in this one.

“We need to make sure whoever we put out is ready and give their best. We have five substitutes (available) in this (competition) and will use them, because we want to get minutes into players and protect others. The bench will be important.”

The former Barnsley and Leeds United manager admitted his club has been monitoring Heart of Midlothian defender John Souttar having seen another they looked at, James Hill, join Bournemouth.

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"He's one of a few that we’ve been linked with, he’s a good player and he’s going to be sought after I’m sure," he said of Souttar. "We’ll be linked with a lot of players in that position if they’re available this window. Some will get right and some will be way off the mark.

"He’s one of a few we’ve looked at. We’ve highlighted the positions we think we need players and he’s one of a few in that position. We’d be foolish not to have a look at him. He can be a free in the summer, but I’m not going to say if we’re going to do it or not. He’s certainly someone we’ve looked at."