Nigel Adkins has admitted Sheffield United are taking a calculated risk by postponing contract talks with several members of his squad until after this weekend’s game against Scunthorpe.
But Adkins, who is expected to overhaul the options at his disposal following another disappointing season at Bramall Lane, refuted claims his relaxed approach could leave the club’s summer recruitment strategy in disarray.
With George Long, Ryan Flynn and captain Jay McEveley all set to become free agents next month, United must also decide whether to offer Dean Hammond and David Edgar permanent contracts when their respective loan agreements expire.
“There’s two ways you can flip it,” Adkins said. “If you haven’t got a deal, then prove that you are worth one.
“Alternatively, we could lose them on a Bosman. That’s the flip-side if you like.”
“We will finish (the season) and then turn our attention totally to matters like this,” he added. “But discussions will always take place in the proper manner. Which is behind the scenes and in private with the individuals concerned.”
With Middlesbrough signalling another loanee, defender Alex Baptiste, will shortly return to Teeside, Adkins could potentially start the 2016/17 campaign without any members of the back three which started last weekend’s match at Coventry City. Although the break-up of a team which failed to qualify for the play-offs is unlikely to be mourned by many, the United manager is keen to avoid the type of widespread disruption he believes has contributed to the club’s problems in recent years. Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Tony Mowbray’s side condemned United to spending a sixth straight season in League One.
“We want to build something here and that’s what we are determined to do,” Adkins said. “Build for right now and also for the future.”
Long, the former England under-20 goalkeeper, is already thought to have been offered fresh terms by United’s hierarchy after replacing Mark Howard between the posts. Howard missed the meeting with City because his partner was due to give birth but is expected to return to the squad when seventh-placed Scunthorpe visit South Yorkshire on Sunday.
“We want to win the game,” Adkins said. “Yes, it is important for the division but it is also for ourselves.”