Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has revealed a centre-half is his immediate priority in this summer’s transfer market, writes James Shield.
Clough made the admission after confirming that a short-list of potential targets, also thought to include a centre-forward, was compiled before Swindon Town ended the League One club’s play-off hopes at the semi-final stage.
Conceding that defensive frailties had undermined United’s bid for promotion, Clough told The Star: “We’ve already established out targets. Now it’s just a case of getting them in.
“If we’d have had this side before January then I’d have fancied us for automatic.
“It’s a big ask for someone to come in for John (Brayford). But, if he’s not available, then we might have to do it.”
United, who announced Brayford will be absent for six months after missing Monday’s 5-5 draw in Wiltshire with knee ligament damage, kept only 10 clean sheets en route to the County Ground compared to 17 during the previous campaign.
Shaun Barker is expected to be invited to train at the Redtooth Academy when United reconvene next month after leaving Derby County. Barker has entered the final phase of his recovery from injury but Clough will focus his search on those options with a proven track record in recent seasons.
With Terry Kennedy among those to also miss a contest which saw the visitors, trailing 2-1 after the first-leg, fail to book their place in May 24th’s Wembley showpiece, Clough said: “It’s about getting the right three or four in over the summer.
“If we’d have had Brayford, (Jose) Baxter, (Stefan) Scougall, (James) Wallace and Terry, a proper centre-half, available then we’d have been better off. I’m convinced, no sure, of that.”
Fears had been expressed that Brayford, who damaged a ligament in his knee during the first leg against Swindon seven days ago, could be absent for around 12 months. But, after undergoing a consultation in London, specialists have decreed the former Cardiff City full-back does not require surgery to correct the problem.
“John went to see a specialist in London earlier this week and the results were possibly the best case scenario in a serious situation because we feared that it could be up to 12 months or beyond,” Clough said.
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