George Long has effectively agreed to sign a new contract with Sheffield United.
The former England under-18 international was poised to commit his future to Bramall Lane last month but negotiations were complicated by the sacking of manager Nigel Adkins.
Discussions with Long and his representatives are understood to have restarted following Chris Wilder’s appointment as the 51-year-old’s successor with sources close to the process insisting last night that terms have “basically” been agreed. Talks to address a “few minor details” are expected to continue over the coming weeks with United’s hierarchy confident the player will remain in South Yorkshire.
Long, aged 22, made 38 appearances last season after displacing Mark Howard as Adkins’ preferred choice between the posts. But with Howard departing earlier this summer, he faces another test of his credentials with Wilder expected to sign a new goalkeeper during the forthcoming transfer window. Aaron Ramsdale, who like Long has progressed through United’s youth system, is highly regarded by staff at the Steelphalt Academy and could be allowed to further his education on loan before returning to challenge for a starting role.
Long, speaking before Adkins was dismissed, explained how a spell with Motherwell benefited his career.
“Going to Scotland really helped,” he admitted. “I was out of my comfort zone, in a completely new environment and that was good to experience.”
Wilder demonstrated his trust in youngsters at Northampton Town last term. Adam Smith, previously of Leicester City, was a driving force behind the side which delivered the League Two title to Sixfields and has been touted as a possible United target after keeping 15 clean sheets in 50 outings.
Wilder must overhaul the squad he inherited from Adkins two weeks ago after releasing 10 players and transfer listing another seven, including Dean Hammond, Diego De Girolamo and Paul Coutts. Although Hammond’s decision to exercise his right to a permanent contract has provoked a flurry of criticism, privately United’s hierarchy accept the midfielder was entitled to trigger a clause inserted into his original loan agreement.
Hammond is now scheduled to report back for pre-season training next month.
Adkins, meanwhile, features on a shortlist of four names being considered for the vacant post at Bolton Wanderers. Peter Reid has also been interviewed by co-owners Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth. Former Rotherham manager Steve Evans, now of Leeds, also boasts admirers among the Macron Stadium’s board of directors.