Sheffield United aim to persuade more of Chris Wilder’s most influential performers to commit their long-term futures to the club after John Fleck became the latest player to sign a new contract at Bramall Lane.
The plan, outlined by United’s manager ahead of tonight’s meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers, raises the possibility that David Brooks could be offered a new deal to ward off interest from rivals clubs following his impressive start to the Championship campaign.
Although Wilder recently revealed that Brooks was awarded improved terms towards the end of last season - “We didn’t choose to make a fuss of it at the time” - Fleck was only 14 months into a three year agreement when he was handed a contract running until 2021 last week.
“We will look at others as well,” Wilder said. “We like to take care of the here and now, the medium term and also the long-term. We’re planners as well as builders.”
Fleck has emerged as a key member of United’s squad since arriving on a free transfer from Coventry City. He follows in the footsteps of Billy Sharp, Paul Coutts, Kieron Freeman and Chris Basham, who all signed extended contracts after helping Wilder’s team lift the League One title last term.
“I’m not going to get snobby about paying huge amounts of money or past achievements,” Wilder said. “I’m not going to get all caught up whether someone has played in the Premier League and all of that.
“What we are bothered about is players who we feel can help us improve and develop with us. John is a good player and we’re delighted to get him tied down to this. We feel he can move forward with us.”
“I always say, even though we are a millions miles off where they are at the moment, to look at Bournemouth,” Wilder added. “They are a great example of bringing players through with you. Harry Arter was with Woking and look at him now. That’s what can happen.”