Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder hopes Ethan Ebanks-Landell is allowed to play football in peace rather than being constantly quizzed about his future at Bramall Lane.
The centre-half, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, has been a huge hit since arriving in South Yorkshire and emerged as an important member of the team which enters Saturday’s meeting with MK Dons unbeaten in 10 League One games.
United officials opened talks with their counterparts at Molineux about the possibility of signing Ebanks-Landell on a permanent basis earlier this month. But Wolves’ decision to sack manager Walter Zenga after 17 matches in charge will inevitably lead to questions about whether that remains a possibility when Wilder hosts his pre-match press conference today.
“We’re still in October,” Wilder said. “Let Ethan just get on with it even though I understand it. The stuff that needs to be done will go on behind the scenes.”
“But I just want him to enjoy himself,” Wilder, speaking before last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Bradford City, added. “I understand it though. He gives 100 per cent, he’s committed and he sets that base.”
Despite Zenga’s departure - the former Italy goalkeeper sanctioned Ebanks-Landell’s move following Richard Stearman’s return to the Black Country - United are privately confident that the situation will not hijack their talks with Wolves’ owners Fosun International.
Wilder claimed Zenga could work in a “different market” after the Chinese conglomerate completed its £45m takeover earlier this year and, given the resources likely to be placed at his successor’s disposal, that is unlikely to change.
Nevertheless, United will be keen to complete a deal for Ebanks-Landell - or at least acquire some sort of option - at the earliest possible opportunity given that his contract is scheduled to expire at the end of the campaign.
Wolves could extend Ebanks-Landell’s stay for 12 months although, with Stearman’s loan from Fulham not ending until May, his opportunities there appear slim.