Blades set to swoop for old boy

Top man:  Danny Wilson is a big admirer of Billy Dearden.
Top man: Danny Wilson is a big admirer of Billy Dearden.
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BILLY Dearden, the former Sheffield United striker, could be poised for an emotional return to Bramall Lane after Danny Wilson refused to rule-out the possibility of him joining the club’s backroom staff.

Wilson, who was appointed United manager three weeks ago, last night pledged to adopt an “imaginative” approach in the transfer market when he begins re-shaping the squad he inherited from predecessor Micky Adams.

With Frank Barlow now officially unveiled as his assistant, Wilson is understood to have turned his attention towards a scouting department which has borne the brunt of the behind the scenes upheaval that contributed to United’s relegation from the Championship.

Asked whether recruiting Dearden, who has been working at Blackpool since 2008, would improve United’s player identification systems, Wilson replied: “Billy is a top quality individual. Of that there’s no doubt.

“Whether or not he’d be able to come here is difficult to say. He’s away on holiday at the moment.”

Wilson added: “The job Billy’s done at Blackpool has been excellent.

“If you look at his record I think it’s fair to say that he’s helped to bring in some exceptional players for them.”

Dearden scored 61 goals in 175 league appearances for United before joining Chester City in 1976.

Wilson also used yesterday’s media briefing to discuss a Carling Cup first round draw which has handed him a return to former club Hartlepool.

Goals from James Brown and Adam Boyd condemned United to an embarrassing defeat there at the same stage of last season’s competition.

The tie is scheduled to be played the week commencing August 8.

Wilson, who led Hartlepool to promotion in 2007, said: “It’s a club that’s still very fresh in my memory and I’m looking forward to going back.

“It won’t be a game for the faint hearted because it’s not an easy place to go for a visiting team. We’ll have to show character.

“But the pitch up there is always excellent so, if you can get the ball down, then there’s no reason why you can’t knock it around and play.”

Meanwhile, United have unveiled details of travel packages for supporters wishing to attend next month’s pre-season tour of Malta.

Wilson’s side face Sliema Wanderers at the Ta Quali training complex on July 18 before travelling to Hibernians two days later. United managing director Dave McCarthy said: “We are delighted to be going back to Malta as we have always had really good experiences on each of our previous visits.

“I hope some of our fans will be able to visit the island and watch the lads train and play.

“The players will be working very hard under the guidance of Danny Wilson, Frank Barlow and the coaching team, but there will also be the chance to interact with fans during the week.”

Telephone 08444825959 for further details or to book.

United, who have also confirmed friendlies against Blackpool, Doncaster Rovers, Sheffield FC and Worksop Town, have based themselves on the Mediterranean island for the past two summers.

Wilson said: “It is very important that the players prepare as well as they possibly can for the season ahead of them.”