Ben Whiteman has been told Sheffield United’s interest in Southend’s Ryan Leonard will not prevent him from securing a place in Bramall Lane’s first team squad.
The young midfielder, a graduate of the Steelphalt Academy youth programme, returned to United earlier this week when his loan at Doncaster Rovers expired.
Although Chris Wilder has left the door open for Whiteman to return to the Keepmoat Stadium, he insisted his pursuit of Leonard does not mean Whiteman will be denied an opportunity to impress.
“So we are bringing Ben back for January, to see how he goes and see what happens here,” the United manager said. “If we don’t get anybody in, or we look at Ben and think he can take us forward into the second part of the season, he will stay. He is our player, Ben understands that, and we will take it from there.”
Whiteman, aged 21, made his United debut during an FA Cup tie against Crewe in November 2014 but is ineligible for selection against Ipswich Town today having appeared for Rovers in a previous round. Having impressed for Darren Ferguson’s side, Paul Coutts’ season-ending leg injury prompted Wilder to abandon plans to renew Whiteman’s agreement with Rovers.
“Ben is back with us,” he said. “His loan expired on Wednesday, so he is back in training with us today.
“One of the situations we have had in the Championship is learning about numbers, and making sure we are covered. The loan move has been great for Ben.”