Sheffield United: Blades gear-up for deadline day

Doncaster Rovers manager Paul Dickov

Doncaster Rovers manager Paul Dickov

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Sheffield United are bracing themselves for a busy end to the transfer window after Nigel Clough, the League One club’s manager, revealed he could try to sign “three or four” new players before Monday’s deadline, writes James Shield.

Clough, whose side visit Preston North End this afternoon, is known to have placed a defender and centre-forward at the top of his wanted list despite confirming officials at Bramall Lane have yet to approach Hull City about the possibility of capturing Harry Maguire on loan.

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough hopes to sign more players before Monday's transfer deadline � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough hopes to sign more players before Monday's transfer deadline � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Leeds captain Jason Pearce also interests United but recent events at Elland Road, where Clough’s counterpart David Hockaday was sacked on Thursday evening, have prompted them to explore alternative lines of enquiry.

“We’ve identified three or four people we’re looking at,” Clough said. “A couple of permanents and a couple of loans.

“The permanent deals are, of course, the priority while the loans are ones we’d be looking to do until January. We’ll see if we can get them done.”

Clough, whose side knocked West Ham United out of the Capital One Cup in midweek, has recruited heavily since guiding United from 21st to seventh in the table last term with 11 new players arriving in South Yorkshire during the close season.

However, after predicting Preston will pose their “toughest test” of the campaign so far, he indicated he is unlikely to embark upon another major overhaul of United’s squad.

“Preston will be as hard as anyone we’ll face this season,” Clough said. “It’s only a matter of time before they go up.

“Their biggest strength is that they’ve been together for so long, building and building every year. (Manager) Simon (Grayson) knows what he’s doing and so we know we’ve got to put every ounce of effort in.”

Clough added: “You can’t put a price on that, the same manager and the same squad because everyone knows what they’re doing.

“Preston will be aware of our strengths too though and, although we’re probably not as defensively strong as we were last time we faced them, I think it’s fair to say we’ve now got some other, different, weapons at our disposal.”

Maguire, who completed a £2.5m move from United to City last month, could see his opportunities at the KC Stadium limited by a combination of their failure to qualify for the Europa League and Steve Bruce’s decision to buy former Spurs centre-half Michael Dawson.

Clough said: “I’ve not asked Steve yet, no, because I don’t think the best time to call is within hours of him being knocked out of Europe. But we might give him a ring.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1