Sheffield United: Blades boss wants clear thinking

Nigel Adkins during last month's draw with Wigan Athletic '�2016 Sport Image all rights reserved
Nigel Adkins during last month's draw with Wigan Athletic '�2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

Nigel Adkins has outlined the importance of establishing a coherent recruitment strategy at Bramall Lane after culling more players from his squad before last night’s transfer deadline.

The Sheffield United manager, who sanctioned yesterday’s decision to release Michael Higdon and Conor Dimaio, described his employers’ playing staff as “bloated” after being appointed in June before revealing there were “over 40 professionals” on the pay-roll.

Sheffield United's head of scouting and recruitment Lee Turnbull''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Sheffield United's head of scouting and recruitment Lee Turnbull''� copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Although United’s failure to secure Fulham’s Dan Burn represents a disappointment given Adkins’ public statements about wanting to make “a couple of additions” before Saturday’s League One fixture against Wigan Athletic, the former Scunthorpe and Southampton chief’s insisted their refusal to make any vanity purchases would prevent a repeat of past mistakes.

“When everything is right, you have a balance all the way through,” he said. “And that’s what we, and everyone else here for that matter, is working towards. There’s a natural evolution with regards to contracts expiring, players coming in and also a settled core. It also, just as importantly, creates a pathway for young players coming through.”

With James Wallace, Kieron Freeman and Otis Khan also among those departing, Adkins had hoped to counterpoise the process by strengthening his starting eleven with a centre-half and winger known to feature on United’s wish-list. The emergency loan window, which opens next week, now represents United’s last remaining opportunity to trade before the end of the season although they can offer contracts to free agents at any time.

The fact Higdon, who commanded a significant transfer fee when he arrived from NEC Nijmegen two years ago, is likely to have received a severance package to cover the remainder of his deal, underlines another reason behind United’s desire to adopt a more considered approach towards the transfer market. Effectively paying players to depart has been a drain on their financial resources since being relegated from the Championship in 2011 with Marlon King among those to negotiate settlements after being declared surplus to requirements. The issue is known to have been discussed at board level on numerous occasions of late.

Kieron Freeman has joined Portsmouth on loan

Kieron Freeman has joined Portsmouth on loan

Adkins, who unveiled Lee Turnbull as his head of recruitment and scouting earlier this season, said: “We have identified players who are of interest. Those fall into different categories, including those for now and those who we think might not be quite ready or required at this stage but who potentially could be in six months, 12 months or even after that.”

Adkins, speaking last week, added: “It’s vital to do that, to plan properly. That way, you lesson the opportunity of making mistakes or ending-up with too many players in the squad.”

Meanwhile, goals from Harrison McGahey and Ben Whiteman were on target as United ended Huddersfield Town’s 16 match unbeaten run in the Professional Development League at Bramall Lane yesterday.