Sheffield United are continuing to monitor Dan Burn, The Star understands, as Nigel Adkins prepares to strengthen his squad.
But Bramall Lane’s hierarchy fear they could struggle to resurrect a deal for the defender after his parent club Fulham, having already shelved a proposed loan agreement, sacked manager Kit Symons earlier this month.
Burn was set to join United in September only for the move to break down when negotiations between officials at Craven Cottage and one of their own targets stalled just hours before the transfer deadline.
Adkins, whose side visit Walsall this weekend, is thought to have maintained an interest in the 23-year-old despite seeing him start five of the Londoners’ last six games.
Although Adkins has refused to divulge details of United’s recruitment strategy - “We’ll do our business in the proper manner, privately and behind the scenes” - he recently hinted its technical board is expecting to both buy and sell when the window reopens in January.
“Everyone wants to play, there’s a natural process,” Adkins said. “We are always striving to improve. But we also want competition for places. If we recruit then it’s not a case of just getting a body in.
Adkins experienced similar difficulties attempting to prise Dean Hammond away from Leicester City but his protracted pursuit of the midfielder paid-off when he joined United on a temporary basis four weeks ago. Hammond, who previously worked with Adkins at Southampton, is expected to complete a permanent switch when his loan expires.
“Yes, it took a long time but it will be worth it,” Adkins said. “You can see, already, the benefits that Dean will bring. We were delighted to get it done. As always, people coming in have to be better than what we’ve got.”
The identity of Symons’ replacement will have a crucial bearing on whether Adkins enjoys similar success with Burn.
The former Yeovil Town and Darlington centre-half, who can also operate at full-back, asked for permission to join United after becoming frustrated by his lack of opportunities at first team level earlier this term before injuries to Shaun Hutchinson, Nikolay Bodurov and Ryan Fredericks provided an opening.
David Edgar could bolster United’s defensive options at the Banks’s Stadium after returning from international duty with Canada.