Neill Collins is set to reject opportunities to leave Bramall Lane during the transfer window in favour of attempting to regain his first team place, writes James Shield.
The Sheffield United centre-half, whose team mate Andy Butler yesterday completed a move to Doncaster Rovers, has been the subject of loan enquiries from numerous Football League clubs after failing to make an appearance since October.
But The Star understands that Collins has told at least one of his potential suitors that he remains committed to forcing himself back into manager Nigel Clough’s plans. The former Scotland under-21 international recently revealed he had “come too far” with United to consider turning his back on them after twice qualifying for the play-offs and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals last term.
Clough, whose side progressed to the fourth round of this season’s competition when they beat Queens Park Rangers three days ago, will allow players on the periphery of his squad to arrange temporary moves elsewhere after acknowledging the likes of Chris Porter and Stephen McGinn could find it beneficial to “play some games.”
“We would never stand in the way of anyone who felt that would help,” Clough said. “Providing it suited us all.”
With United set to bolster the options at the manager’s disposal before next month’s deadline for permanent signings - Chris O’Grady, Jimmy Ryan and John Brayford are known to feature among Clough’s list of targets - Butler’s switch to Rovers has now been confirmed.
The 31-year-old made only one appearance for United after leaving Walsall in July and has agreed a contract with his home-town team until 2017.
Butler initially arrived at the Keepmoat Stadium on loan and Clough said: “When we signed Andy in the summer it was with the intention of him putting pressure on our central defenders but it has not panned out that way.
“There has been no animosity and we wish him well at Doncaster Rovers.”
United, who were paired with Preston North End during Monday’s fourth round draw, host Simon Grayson’s side in League One competition this weekend. With Chris Basham still suspended, Terry Kennedy and Harrison McGahey will compete to partner Jay McEveley at the heart of Clough’s rearguard.
Sixth-placed United are 12 points behind North End in the table and trail the automatic promotion positions by a further three.