Chris Wilder has acknowledged the need for adjustments in the Sheffield United squad and anticipates player departures during the January transfer window. While he aims for a strategic reshaping with only two or three new additions, he emphasises a measured approach rather than a drastic overhaul.
Reports have already revealed Benie Traore’s loan move to Ligue 1 club Nantes, while Ismaila Coulibaly is also rumoured to be joining Swedish club AIK on loan.
Where else could we see departures?
The left-back position has come under scrutiny in this squad evaluation. With all options fit, Wilder has six choices in Rhys Norrington-Davies, Max Lowe, Yasser Larouci, and Luke Thomas, along with Ben Osborn and Auston Trusty capable of playing in that role. However, Lowe’s injury, acquired in training, will sideline him for a few weeks, and Norrington-Davies, having recently returned from a 14-month absence, will be carefully managed in terms of first-team minutes.
The absence of Troyes loanee Larouci, who is away on African Cup of Nations duty with Algeria, adds to the challenges for Chris Wilder in the left-back position. This further narrows down the options available for him.
While there have been reports suggesting that United may consider sending loanee Luke Thomas back to Leicester City in this window, Thomas trained with Sheffield United today. It appears he is in contention to retain his place this weekend for their FA Cup fixture against Gillingham.
Chris Wilder told the media in his latest pre-match press conference:
“The whole squad has been looked at. We have to get the balance right. We have got Rhys coming back, Max is out for a number of weeks. So we have to deal with those situations and we have to get the balance right.
“It’s no good having three or four left backs if we might possibly need players in another position. So in that there will be players departing as well to balance the group up and make the group look a bit better in terms of that.”
The Max Lowe injury could spoil the plans of bringing in another domestic loan, if the Blades are in fact willing to keep Thomas now.