Simon Moore being carried off in 2-1 pre-season win at Rotherham leaving the Blades short in the goalkeeping department.
CHRIS WILDER remains firmly on message and won’t press Sheffield United’s co-owners to break the bank as he steps up the recruitment drive ahead of his side’s return to the Championship.
The Bramall Lane boss has added five players to his squad since clinching promotion last May. A sixth, Oxford United’s 23-year-old captain John Lundstram, a midfielder, has also agreed a move and is due to be announced. Wilder revealed an additional goalkeeper has been a priority. even before first choice Simon Moore, pictured, was carried off after just 14 minutes of the 2-1 friendly victory at Rotherham making it four wins out of four pre-season outings. He fell to the ground in pain whilst play was in the other half.
“We’re picking up too many bumps and bruises at the moment and that’s disappointing,” said Wilder. “Simon’s situation is quite worrying. He’s a brave boy and for him to go down and get carried off on a stretcher it didn’t look too good.
“It’ll be a busy old weekend and into next week. Whether we can get deals done before Tuesday [United face Stoke City in what is there only pre-season appearance at Bramall Lane] we’ll wait and see.”
All but one of the new arrivals, defender Richard Stearman, played for League One or League Two clubs last season. Stearman, signed from Fulham for an undisclosed fee but believed to be £950,000, is the only player in United’s squad to date with current Championship experience. He spent last season on loan to Wolves.
Wilder acknowledged how urgent it is for him to push ahead with recruitment as the clock ticks down. “We’re coming to the business end and we need to up our game and make things happen,” he said. “The eleven tonight [at Rotherham] is good but we need to have a few more in to push and maybe go above them as well.”
Wilder has asked for a share of the £4.5million windfall, part of the transfer deal worth a minimum £45million which saw ex-Blade Kyle Walker’s move from Tottenham to Manchester City. The Blades boss made the case to club owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud last week, outlining who his remaining transfer targets are.
“We put together a presentation to the owners for the players we want to get and I am confident the ones we want will be signed off,” Wilder told the Yorkshire Post.
“Everyone talks about the financial aspect of the Championship and the gambles that clubs are taking. And they are gambles, I am in no doubt about that. We won’t do that, we can’t gamble this club’s future. Enough have paid the price for doing that, from Portsmouth to Leeds United and many, many others.
“Once the gamble backfires, it isn’t the players who feel the pain but those who work at the club. Those in the offices who get laid off and the supporters feel the pain. Fans need to know we will do this in a structured way and with a plan. We were creative last season, getting players in from different areas. We are doing the same this year in terms of signings.”
Moore’s injury comes with less than two weeks before United kick-off their Championship campaign against Brentford at the Lane.
Reserve keeper Jake Eastwood cut an impressive-looking replacement at the New York Stadium, but Wilder made it clear that he is looking for someone else to be Moore’s understudy in the Championship, even suggesting that the 20-year-old could be loaned out.
“Darren Ward [United’s goalkeeping coach] knows that we need another one to challenge in the Championship. He [Eastwood] will play his games this year, he might go out on loan and he’ll progress. Hopefully in the long line of goalkeepers that we’ve produced he’s maybe one down the line that does well for us.”
United are short on numbers in the goalkeeping department after Aaron Ramsdale who came through United’s academy and Moore’s understudy for much of last season, was sold to Premier League Bournemouth in January for £800,000. “The bid was too good to turn down,” Wilder said at the time. Ramsdale played in the England Under-19 team which beat Portugal 2-1 to lift the European Championship staged in Georgia earlier this month.
George Long, meanwhile, who began last season as first choice but was quickly replaced by Moore, signed from Cardiff City, slipped to third in the pecking order before Ramsdale’s departure. He appears to have no future at the Lane and recently embarked on a season-long loan to AFC Wimbledon.
United skipper Billy Sharp offered hope that Moore's injury may not be as serious as was first thought. "When somebody goes off on a stretcher you think it's pretty bad but he's hobbling about and hopefully we won't lose him for too long."
Anticipating the challenge ahead Wilder said: “There are some big teams, the fixture list tells you that. We have to be careful we don’t get overawed by the size of the clubs. Especially as this club has a great history and should be at the very minimum, in the Championship. Togetherness and spirit go a long way, Leicester showed that in 2016 [Premier League champions] and Huddersfield last year by going up [to the top flight].
“I watched a few Championship games last season and, without naming names, saw a few of the top sides turned over. Barnsley did it to a couple and that was through having good players, being fit and organised, and working hard.
“I would imagine their manager [Paul Heckingbottom] would say the spirit got them through against teams who were not together. Here, we pride ourselves on the group being strong. Players have a choice to get what we are about or not and the new signings have definitely got it. That has pleased me because we will need it this season.”