Sheffield United: How The Blades have stolen a march in the race for Ryan Leonard

Ryan Leonard is one of Sheffield United's transfer targets next month
Ryan Leonard is one of Sheffield United's transfer targets next month

Sheffield United continued to monitor Ryan Leonard’s displays despite failing to sign him last summer, The Star understands, as Chris Wilder prepares to make another approach for the Southend midfielder.

Leonard, aged 25, is the subject of renewed interest from Bramall Lane ahead of next month’s transfer window as Wilder attempts to build upon his side’s excellent start to the campaign.

But with Championship rivals Millwall also known to be interested in acquiring the player’s services, United have jumped ahead of the Londoners in the race for Leonard’s signature by sending a representative to almost every one of his games since Southend chairman Ron Martin rejected three offers from Wilder’s employers during the close season.

That, combined with the fact United travel to Preston North End this weekend ranked sixth in the table, is believed to have convinced Leonard his future lies in South Yorkshire.

With Phil Brown’s side slipping to 12th in League One - seven points behind sixth placed Charlton Athletic - Martin could now be tempted to part company with Leonard rather than lose him for nothing when his contract expires in six months time.

Leonard submitted a transfer request in an attempt to force through a move after learning of United’s bid following their promotion from the third tier last term. Although that was later withdrawn, he refused to accept the new deal Southend tabled in an attempt to resolve the matter once and for all. Wilder is determined to capture Leonard after Paul Coutts (pictured) was ruled-out for the rest of the season through injury.