Sheffield United's Paul Heckingbottom focused on FA Cup challenge as transfer embargo remains in place

Paul Heckingbottom says Sheffield United's transfer embargo is taking very little of his focus because there is nothing he can do about it.

And even were it to be lifted before Tuesday's 11pm deadline, the Blades manager says he has not identified the striker he wants to bring in, and would anyway have to persuade his board to release the funds.

That the Championship club are unable to sign new players or even recall loanees until they settle the outstanding payments owed to other clubs is the sideshow around Sunday's televised FA Cup at Conference side Wrexham.

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But as he has shown in leading his team to second in the table with the club up for sale, injuries constantly disrupting his plans and now this, Heckingbottom is not one to fret over matters he has no control over.

DIFFICULTIES: But Paul Heckingbottom argues Sheffield United's transfer embargo is little different to many of the obstacles he is regularly faced withDIFFICULTIES: But Paul Heckingbottom argues Sheffield United's transfer embargo is little different to many of the obstacles he is regularly faced with
DIFFICULTIES: But Paul Heckingbottom argues Sheffield United's transfer embargo is little different to many of the obstacles he is regularly faced with

The transfer embargo falls firmly into that category.

"There's literally I can do nothing about this, nothing," he says.

"There's loads of things I can do something about or which can affect me daily. But they've not been public knowledge. They've been the challenge.

"This is not my challenge, much as it's affected us directly, there's nothing we can do about it.

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"It's not just a line when I'm saying my focus and that of the staff, the players, is on the football.

"It's a big deal, of course, it is. It's a problem and as soon as we get it sorted the better so we can move on.

"But all it is is a distraction.

"What do we do? Sit here and moan about it, point fingers? No, we've got a game to try and win.

"It's not me trying to be smart or belittle the situation – it's serious.

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"That's why these sanctions are there, it's the right thing to do (to have them) but where we are, me, the players, we can't let our focus shift from the games."

Heckingbottom feels this chapter has just shone a light on difficulties often kept hidden.

"To get the squad together in the summer there were loads of challenges, managing it through the last few months loads of challenges," he argues.

"Every window is a challenge for different reasons. The only thing is something's come out in the open which is a problem. It's not really any tougher or any different, it's just people are aware of this problem."

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With money tight before at Bramall Lane, although the embargo can be lifted as soon as the debt is settled, it will not transform their ability to bring a new player in.

"There's financial implications for bringing someone in and we had restrictions before this embargo," stressed Heckingbottom.

"If we think we can get something done, we need to present that and see if we can get the green light."

He has wanted another forward since Brighton and Hove Albion recalled forward Reda Khadra from his loan to move him on to Birmingham City.

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"We were a body light, we want to be in a position to strengthen if possible," he confirmed.

"If that changes at any point and we know it's not going to happen, we'll be told and we'll save our energy and start focusing on other things.

"We've been looking (for another forward) but we haven't found one."

As for whether any players could leave in the coming days, with plenty of suitors for Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge, Heckingbottom added: "I think there's been interest and there always is but there's been no bids."

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The former Barnsley and Leeds United manager is confident he will at least be listened to if he again has to make the case for not selling a key member of a squad which has put automatic promotion to the Premier League firmly in sight. Whether his advice will be followed is another thing.

"I'm confident that all the time I'll get listened to, definitely, but I'm not the decision-maker," he says. "Disagreements are for us to have with each other, not out in the open.

"I don't always get what I want and we try and work hard for the best for the club."

And Heckingbottom's focus will need to be on the football because the Blades are coming up against a Wrexham side bankrolled by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney who are unbeaten at home this season. They might be playing in the Conference but looking at the quality of their squad, the Blades manager argues it is a "false position".

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Not that it would make much difference in the FA Cup if it were not.

"We know we're facing a team in a false position. That doesn't make it any easier for them to get out of that league.

"But they're up there, they've won every home game.

"They've got threats at the top end of the pitch. If they want to be direct into (Ollie) Palmer they've got (Paul) Mullin playing on the shoulder who's scored a lot of goals at a higher level than this as well. They've got midfielders breaking forward into the box, whether that's (Luke) Young or (Elliot) Lee and the long throw weapon, (Ben) Tozer, as well which they've used as well

"We know they're going to be a threat from set-plays. We know they're going to be a threat putting bodies in our box and we know we're going to have to deal with that, then try and hurt them with what we want to do."