Sheffield United have issued a ‘hands-off’ warning to Celtic amid claims the Scottish Premier League champions want to lure Stefan Scougall away from Bramall Lane.
The former Livingston midfielder, who emerged as a driving force behind United’s march into the FA Cup semi-finals last season, reportedly features on a list of potential targets compiled by manager Ronny Deila following his appointment at Parkhead last month.
Although the Glasgow giants are yet to make an approach, or even decide whether to pursue their interest, United’s hierarchy have made it plain that manager Nigel Clough is under no pressure to sell his best players after rejecting bids from Hull City and Wolverhampton Wanderers for centre-half Harry Maguire.
Indeed, with Marc McNulty swapping the Energy Assets Arena for South Yorkshire during the close season, Clough is expected to once again place Scougall at the heart of his plans to reach the Championship next term.
Leicester City, who considered recruiting Maguire two seasons ago, have also been linked with the defender but are yet to return with a fresh offer.
Despite resurrecting the partnership between McNulty and Scougall which delivered 21 goals for John McGlynn’s side last season, United have made another centre-forward their top priority in the transfer market with full-back Kieron Freeman expected to arrive from Derby County shortly.
Suggestions Deila is monitoring Scougall appear to emanate from the fact that John Collins, his mentor at Livingston, has recently been unveiled as the Norwegian’s assistant.
Speaking exclusively to The Star earlier this year, Collins expressed surprise that the SPL’s leading names had not competed with United for the youngster’s signature.
“I’ve got to say that I was really surprised when nobody in Scotland, Celtic, Hibs or Rangers for example, made a concerted effort to get Stefan because I think they’ve missed a real trick there,” Collins said. “But their loss is definitely United’s gain.”