Senior figures at Sheffield United suspect the League One champions are being used as a ‘publicity machine’ by players looking to boost their profile during this summer’s transfer market.
Four new players have arrived at Bramall Lane, including Ched Evans and George Baldock, since Chris Wilder’s team won promotion back to the Championship with more targets expected to be secured over the coming weeks.
But sources at United last night expressed incredulity at claims they met with Jason McCarthy before the former Southampton defender joined neighbours Barnsley earlier this month. It was that episode, combined with several other reports linking them with players at rival clubs, which prompted one source to speak out.
“It happens,” they told The Star. “But it’s still a shame when people try and use our name to try and generate a little bit of publicity for themselves. Especially when what is being put out there doesn’t actually bear any relation to what’s going on behind the scenes.
“It’s amusing in one way but then, in another, a little bit annoying as well. It’s something we’re used to though.”
United, who begin preparing for the new season later this week, are pursuing a number of targets as Wilder looks to strengthen his squad. Ricky Holmes remains on their wanted list and, despite Charlton Athletic’s best efforts, has yet to sign the new contract he was offered earlier this month. Southend midfielder Ryan Leonard is another option while United, whose fixture schedule will be announced this morning, are keen on bolstering their options at centre-half following Ethan Ebanks-Landell’s return to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Although Charlton are still hopeful of persuading Holmes to stay, their recent swoop for Mark Marshall, previously of Bradford City, could be interpreted as a sign officials at The Valley fear the 30-year-old’s future is shrouded in doubt. Holmes, the Londoners’ reigning player of the season, scored against United at Bramall Lane last term and previously worked under Wilder at Northampton Town.