Sheffield United: Nigel Clough draws up action plan for promotion

Chris O'Grady in action in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Fleetwood
Chris O'Grady in action in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Fleetwood

Nigel Clough has drawn-up a battle plan for the January transfer window designed to turbo-charge Sheffield United’s promotion challenge.

Clough revealed that enquiries have been lodged with “several clubs” following last weekend’s draw at Fleetwood Town which saw his team remain fifth in the League One table.

Although the United manager refused to divulge the identity of those targets, The Star understands that another attempt could be made to lure Steven Davies away from Blackpool while Bramall Lane’s hierarchy will also try and seeks guarantees that Chris O’Grady’s loan will not be terminated should Sami Hyypia part company with Brighton and Hove Albion.

“We’ve started already,” Clough said. “We’re making approaches and trying to put some things in motion.

“We’re not looking at massive changes. Just bring in those two or three that could make all the difference.

“We’ll be working really hard to do that over the next six or so weeks because we’re always looking to improve.

“Keeping Chris, of course, is very high on our list of priorities.”

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O’Grady is expected to remain in South Yorkshire until the end of the season when his agreement with United is reviewed shortly but Hyypia is coming under increasing pressure at The AMEX Stadium following a miserable sequence of results. United’s interest in Davies, who was poised to join them earlier this term before Jose Riga aborted the deal, has been complicated by the fact that Lee Clark, the Belgian’s successor, recently recalled him to the starting eleven after a long period in the Bloomfield Road wilderness prompting Clough to explore alternative options.

Negotiations aimed at extending Paddy McCarthy temporary move from Crystal Palace are also scheduled for the Christmas period.

Clough, whose side host Southampton in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals tomorrow, saw Bob Harris hand United a ninth minute lead at Highbury before Antoni Sarcevic equalised soon after the break. The match also saw Kieran Wallace make his professional debut after arriving from Ilkeston.

“We’ve got a lot of lads coming back as it were,” Clough said. “Chris hasn’t played 90 minutes for a long time now and we’ve got people like James Wallace also out.

“If they can stay fit and we can bring in two or three in January then there’s every reason to believe that we can have a really strong finish. We had lots missing out there (at Fleetwood) through injury. There was no James Wallace, no Ben Davies, no Craig Alcock, no Stefan Scougall and Chris Basham wasn’t in a position to start. So, all things considered, I don’t think that was a bad point although, after going ahead, obviously there is also disappointment that we didn’t win the game.”

“Kieran reminds us of Gareth Barry with the way he plays,” Clough added. “He’s impressed in training and that’s why he got his chance. He’s shown an excellent attitude and did very well.

“We want to achieve everything this season but you’ve also got to look to the future at the same time and that’s why players like Kieran need to be around.”

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