DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, will repeat his pledge not to hold players hostage when he concludes his first round of talks with Bramall Lane’s first-team squad this week.
The vow comes as rival clubs begin manoeuvring themselves into position before attempting to pick apart a team still coming to terms with being relegated from the Championship last season.
Wilson, who succeeded Micky Adams at the helm 11 days ago, is scheduled to hold discussions with Jordan Slew’s representatives tomorrow after Fulham failed in a £500,000 bid for the teenage striker.
With a usually cohesive dressing room badly affected by internal strife over the past six months - Jamie Ward, Mark Yeates and Stephen Jordan were among those known to endure awkward relationships with the former Northern Ireland international’s predecessor - Wilson has spoken of his desire to foster a more positive atmosphere behind the scenes ahead of what he warns will be a gruelling League One campaign.
“It’s important that everyone gets along,” he said. “That’s the way I like do try and do things.
“If people are happy then they tend to perform better. I think it goes without saying.
“I want to play good football when it’s possible but I also want us to play with spirit and character because that’s vitally important too.”
Although United are hopeful they can persuade Slew, a star of their march into the FA Youth Cup Final, to sign a contract he provisionally agreed before Wilson’s arrival, they are resigned to losing influential names such as Stephen Quinn, Ched Evans and Darius Henderson after slipping into the third tier of English football for the first time since the late 80s.
Quinn revealed over the weekend that he would find it “difficult” to turn down a move elsewhere should the opportunity arise as he looks to force his way onto the international stage with the Republic of Ireland.
“If a club from the Championship or even the Premier League came in I would want to go because, I want to play at the highest level I can,” said Quinn.
“However, I’m fully committed to Sheffield United until that happens because I love the club and, having been here almost nine years, I can safely say that I’m a Sheffield United fan.
“I want to play at the top level though so, if a club did come in for me, I’d have to look at it seriously before making a tough decision.”
“If a move happens it happens.
“But until then I will remain 100 per cent committed to Sheffield United.”
Swansea City and Wigan Athletic are keen.
With a formal approach from Leicester City yet to materialise, Evans is attracting admiring glances from Middlesbrough.
However Tony Mowbray, Wilson’s counterpart on Teesside, must offload Kris Boyd before tabling a firm offer.
Henderson maintains he will not ask for a transfer but is unlikely to relish the prospect of travelling to outposts such as Exeter, Carlisle and Yeovil.
Nick Montgomery, United’s longest-serving player, is still courted by Leeds despite rejecting a switch to his home-town club last year while Queens Park Rangers could also enter the race for his services.
“I just want people to be honest with me,” said Wilson. “If someone wants to go then I fully understand and there’ll be no grudges if nothing comes about and they end up staying so long as they remain professional and totally committed which, knowing what I do about a lot of these lads, I’m totally convinced they would be.
“I really don’t envisage any problems with that at all.”