Harry Maguire has expressed his desire to one day play in the Premier League – as a Sheffield United player.
The Blades’ highly-regarded 18-year-old central defender is the subject of much speculation regarding his future, with Newcastle United heading the list of potential suitors.
But as the January transfer window entered its second week, the maturing teenager issued a reassuring message to United’s fans.
Maguire signed a contract extension until 2015 in October but having been an ever-present in the heart of United’s defence this year, he has naturally caught the eye.
And with United saddled with debts of £32m, the vultures are circling for a number of the Blades’ top performers this season.
However, Maguire, who has only seven months of first-team experience behind him, said: “I’d like to play in the Premier League, but hopefully that will be with Sheffield United in the next few years.
“It’s nice to get recognised, it shows you must be doing something right.
“But I stay away from the speculation. I just try to concentrate on Sheffield United and keep my mind on the football.
“I haven’t thought much about my future other than that I hope I can help Sheffield United get promoted.”
Maguire was one of the stars of United’s run to the FA Youth Cup final last season.
While he and Matthew Lowton – a doubt for tonight’s visit of Yeovil – progressed into the first team, their youth team colleague Jordan Slew had his head turned by the bright lights of the Premier League.
The striker joined Blackburn in the summer transfer window just weeks after signing a contract extension at Bramall Lane.
His appearance for Rovers in the FA Cup last Saturday was only his second taste of first-team football for the Premier League club.
Slew may eventually have the last laugh, but for now Maguire is content to get games under his belt for his home-town club.
“It’s important to play games,” said Maguire, who has made 29 appearances this season.
“Jordan doesn’t seem to be playing. It was his decision but I feel like I need to be playing games at this age.
“And playing in the Premier League with Sheffield United would be a great achievement.”
Maguire’s public display of loyalty is heartening for Blades manager Danny Wilson.
He is not under any pressure to sell players but is equally aware that any substantial offers for any of his players will have to be considered, such is the club’s financial situation.
“Harry’s been brought up here, he’s got no reason to look elsewhere,” said Wilson.
“He’s in his formative years, he’s learning massively every day and every game with the likes of Neill Collins at the side of him.
“With the senior professionals in the club he can’t help but better himself.
“Playing at such a young age consistently is going to bring people to look at you, but he’s a very level-headed young man, very calm, very assured, and from that point of view I don’t think he’ll get carried away.
“Harry’s bright enough, he’s got fantastic parents, they’ll give him great guidance. I don’t think his head would be turned if anything came. If you’re getting advice and it’s not the best advice then that’s when the problems arise. But I don’t think Harry’s in that position to have anybody giving him bad advice.”
Wilson is also not in any rush to formalise a permanent deal for James Beattie.
The former Southampton and Everton striker has made four substitute appearances during his second spell with the Blades and is on a deal until after the game with Bury on Saturday.
United have until the end of this month to make a decision on whether they want to sign a player who is available on a free transfer.
The Blades have the chance to climb back above their Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town into second place tonight when they entertain struggling Yeovil, who yesterday unveiled Gary Johnson as their new manager. He brought them up out of the Conference and will look to save them from relegation back to League Two.
Up at the top of the division, Wilson believes 90 points is the target for any team with designs on automatic promotion.
“The teams up there are winning a lot of games,” said Wilson, whose side are on course to reach that target after taking 47 points from their 24 matches to date.
“You’re going to need 90 points-plus to get into the top two. And we have to be aiming for that.”
Wilson hopes to have Ryan Flynn available for selection after the winger was laid low with illness.
Sheffield United stand to make a small gain from the imminent sale of Billy Sharp from Doncaster Rovers to Leicester City, by virtue of a sell-on clause the Blades have in the striker’s contract.
Last time: Yeovil Town 0 Sheffield United 1; League One; August 27, 2011.
Last six games: Sheffield United WWWWLW, Yeovil Town WLDLLD.
Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire).