Wilder will let Long depart if deal suits all parties

George Long could be allowed to leave Sheffield United when the January transfer window opens.
Sheffield United goalkeeper George Long (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).Sheffield United goalkeeper George Long (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).
Sheffield United goalkeeper George Long (Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage).

The Sheffield-born goalkeeper was United’s No 1 last season, but has fallen down the pecking order since the arrival of Chris Wilder as manager in the summer.

The 23-year-old has started just three league games this season – plus two cup games – and is third choice behind Simon Moore and Aaron Ramsdale.

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Wilder has revealed he would not stand in Long’s way if he wanted to leave Bramall Lane in search of first-team football.

“George is in a period where he wants to play football, but he has to make the decision as well,” said Wilder.

“The door isn’t completely shut for him here, but I’m not going to hold a gun to anyone’s head to stay at the club.

“Any time someone wants to knock on my door and say, ‘I need to get away’, if it’s right for us at the right time, we’ll try to make it happen.”

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With United being out of all cup competitions, it means there is even less scope to give Long or Ramsdale first-team opportunities.

“George’s on-going situation is that we’ve got three really good goalkeepers so we’re in a really good position,” said Wilder.

“The window will open and there’s enquiries now, calls from agents and managers to see who’s available.

“George is contracted here, no one is forcing him out and it’s his decision. If someone comes in and he fancies it, and he takes the opportunity and it’s right for us financially, something might happen.

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“For the time being we’ve got three really good goalkeepers and it’s a position we need to be strong in.

“I’m delighted for Aaron, he’s got a good future ahead of him, but he’s getting taught in the right way. Aaron will improve, Simon Moore is doing great and George is in there as well. We’re in a strong position.”

United face Swindon Town at Bramall Lane tomorrow – three of their next four games are at home – and Wilder wants to reach 50 points by January.

They currently have 38, so would need to win their four remaining games – Swindon, Oldham and Northampton at the Lane, plus a trip to Coventry City – this month.

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After going on a 15-match unbeaten league run, the Blades have not won in their last three outings, including Sunday’s FA Cup exit to Bolton Wanderers.

“We’re looking to go into this Christmas period and accumulate decent points,” said Wilder. “We have to go and get ourselves back on a winning run.

“To do that we must show all the qualities that we did in the previous 15 games. I’m confident we can do that.

“I’ve always said with the (promotion) race, you put yourselves in a position at Christmas and the race really starts at January.

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“It’s our job to pick up points, try to get close to the 50-point mark going into the new year and then the race is really on.

“I think we can all look at every game as vital, but we’ve got three of the four at home and we go to Coventry next Thursday.

“The boys are disappointed in terms of one point from six. We felt we deserved a lot more from the two games.”