Pete McKee

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Jordan Slew is poised to give Sheffield United a much needed lift by finally signing the new contract that has been hanging fire since Fulham failed with a £500,000 bid for his services.

And last night the Blades were also attempting to push through one or possibly two signings to cushion an exodus of senior players.

Boss Danny Wilson was hoping to have at least one new man on board ahead of today’s departure for the club’s pre-season tour of Malta.

But keeping 19-year-old Slew would be a big breakthrough. Wilson said: “It will be excellent for everyone to put this to bed. I’ve always felt it would be best for Jordan’s development to stay with us.”

Meanwhile, Wilson is relishing the chance to “get into the ribs” of his Sheffield United players as the squad settle in Malta for the club’s now traditional pre-season tour.

It’s the new manager’s first chance to really get to know his charges.

And Wilson makes it clear that his clean-slate offer to all players doesn’t mean the pressure if off those who went down fighting last season.

“I’d like to think they’ve all got a point to prove after relegation, even the ones who had a good season,” says Wilson.

“There’ll be a lot of fitness work, no distractions and a chance for us to get into the ribs of the players.”

On wiping out any preconceptions over players on the fringe, Wilson adds: “I don’t think you can afford not to do that.

“All the lads are in the same situation and they have a chance to rectify what happened last year.

“I expect all of them to be in a determined mood.”

Wilson was similarly ready to extend an opportunity to Mark Yeates but an offer from Watford - believed to be around £250,000 - has enabled United to cut their losses on a £500,000 signing who failed to make a sustained impact under several previous managers.

Rumours were rife midway into Micky Adams’ short tenure that the former Middlesbrough midfielder could find himself the subject of negotiations to terminate his contract, such was the rift that opened between manager and player.

Instead, the 26-year-old Dubliner has raised a fee, helping to ease cash restraints on the signings Wilson needs to give his regime lift-off by adding to the arrival of Lecsinel Jean-Francois.

As before, much depends on the future of top earners Ched Evans, Nick Montgomery and Stephen Quinn.

Leeds remain favourites to land Montgomery - possibly involving a part-swap for Wilson’s former Swindon striker Billy Paynter - with Cardiff interested.