Clearing the decks

Nick Montgomery
Nick Montgomery

Darius Henderson is set to emerge as a target for Derby as Sheffield United prepare to offload their top earners.

Record £3m signing Ched Evans is on Ipswich’s radar while Nick Montgomery and Stephen Quinn are also primed for moves following relegation to League One.

Darius Henderson at the end of the Blades game against Barnsley which confirmed their relegation to League One.

Darius Henderson at the end of the Blades game against Barnsley which confirmed their relegation to League One.

Strike pair Henderson and Evans, who cost the Blades a combined £5m, are thought to be on around £15,000 a week at Bramall Lane where a near-£12m wage bill has to be slashed in half.

Montgomery and Quinn will not be far behind in the wage stakes after signing big new deals last summer in the forlorn hope of a promotion push.

Both midfielders could now attract Queens Park Rangers regardless of the London club’s promotion to the Premier League.

The pair emerged during the Bramall Lane reign of Neil Warnock, under whom they had top flight experience with the Blades.

Ched Evans.

Ched Evans.

Despite United’s drop, there is no doubt that half the team is of Championship pedigree at least, making United’s demise all the more regrettable.

Henderson will command considerable interest as the sort of striker most managers crave, a big target man with a healthy goalscoring record.

Although he is a genuine character and insists he wants to stay, that tends to be the default position of players on substantial contracts. The key is whether, at a time of cutbacks, Championship clubs will match Henderson’s Lane salary.

Anyone who can do that might find United willing to compromise on a fee bearing in mind manager Micky Adams’ admission that any realistic offer for any player will have to be considered.

Derby boss Nigel Clough, who has money to spend from American owners, is expected to be at the head of a queue that could include Ipswich, Leeds, Bristol City, Coventry and also Nottingham Forest, depending on the outcome of their play-off challenge.

Ipswich manager Paul Jewell is also a confirmed admirer of Evans, the Welsh international who, to United’s relief, did not break his ankle before being stretchered off last Saturday. Middlesbrough are keen as well.

Promoted Norwich cannot be ruled out for Evans, either, bearing in mind the success of his loan spell at Carrow Road while with Manchester City.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is again being touted for a move to home-town Leeds.

It could be that, through circumstances, one of the above players ends up staying. But that would eat into a limited recruitment budget that can only be deployed once the decks are cleared and some tough numbers have been crunched.

Richard Cresswell is another on substantial wages, though, at 33 and after a disappointing season, his appeal is more limited. One scenario is that the experienced striker or midfielder could emerge as an asset at the lower level.

Lee Williamson may come into a similar category. His back problems are likely to deter some interested parties but, as he showed again in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Barnsley, he is a class act when fit.

Further cash inroads will be made with the departure of loanees Shane Lowry, Joe Mattock, Bjorn Helge Riise and Ellian Parrino.

Of others on the club’s books, Mark Yeates and Daniel Bogdanovic may also be jettisoned after figuring only fleetingly in Adams’ plans.

Outside of youngst ers Matt Lowton, Harry Maguire and Jordan Slew, the team that takes the field in Saturday’s final game at Swansea will bear little or no resemblance to the side that kicks off in League One next season.

lThank goodness for the fans: Page 42.