Sheffield United: Coady and Brayford’s futures crucial to Clough’s plans

John Brayford
John Brayford

Nigel Clough will delay finalising his list of potential targets during the summer transfer window until the futures of John Brayford and Conor Coady are resolved.

The Sheffield United manager plans to approach the on-loan duo’s parent clubs about the possibility of retaining their services when the 2013/14 season reaches its conclusion next month.

Brayford, who started his professional career under Clough’s tutelage at Burton Albion eight years ago, also worked with the former England international at Derby County before joining Cardiff City in July.

Like Coady, the Liverpool and England under-20 midfielder, he is understood to be keen on exploring the possibility of extending his stay at Bramall Lane should the opportunity arise although fears have been expressed he could be recalled to South Wales should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fail to secure Premier League survival.

Clough, whose team visit Tranmere Rovers later today, told The Star before departing for Prenton Park that United are pursuing “several” lines of enquiry in the transfer market with a new centre-forward understood to feature among their list of priorities.

However, he confirmed that talks with officials at both Cardiff and Anfield could begin following May 3rd’s game against Coventry City.

“Ultimately, it is out of our hands but of course we’ll see if anything is possible,” Clough said. “If it is then it might be difficult to get them on a permanent basis but, in that case, there might be a chance of doing something again on loan.

“We’ll have to wait and see but we’ll put the question. Then, because they belong to someone else, we’ll respect whatever decision we are given.”

Liverpool’s plans for Coady could also depend upon the outcome of their bid for the Premier League title.

“Brendan (Rodgers) has, I’m sure, got other more pressing concerns at the moment that talking to us,” Clough acknowledged. “We’ll wait until the time is right and then have a chat to find out what they want.

“That, we think, is the right and proper thing to do.”

United must also elect whether to invoke options on Mark Howard, Ryan Flynn and Bob Harris when their present deals expire shortly.

Publicly, Clough has refused to elaborate on his plans for the trio.

Privately, though, it is likely that all three will remain with their squad while Ben Davies, on loan from Derby County, is likely to be offered a contract when his deal at the iPro Stadium finishes in May.

Kieron Freeman, another County loanee, has been described as “get-able” by Clough should the Wales under-21 international be declared surplus to requirements by his successor Steve McCLaren.

Billy Paynter of Doncaster Rovers also hopes to impress after arriving at Bramall Lane during the January window.

“We began our planning (for next season) as soon as we felt we were safe,” Clough said.

“There are a couple of things we are looking and we’ll see how those pan-out. But we’ve got some tough decision to take here first.

“We want to put ourselves in a good position in terms of our business.

“But the players themselves must concentrate purely on the games we’ve got left.

“As staff, however, we always have to balance that with keeping an eye on what we want to do in the future.”