Sheffield United: Race is on for Sharp

Lifelong Blades fan Billy Sharp has been on loan at relegated Doncaster
Lifelong Blades fan Billy Sharp has been on loan at relegated Doncaster

Southampton are expected to trigger a race for Billy Sharp’s services by off-loading the former Sheffield United centre-forward this summer.

Blades manager Nigel Clough admitted he was “aware” of Sharp’s situation at St Mary’s before Saturday’s Coventry City game but declined to elaborate on whether he plans to explore the possibility of recruiting the 28-year-old during the forthcoming transfer window.

Sharp, a lifelong United supporter, is thought to feature on Doncaster Rovers’ wanted-list after joining Paul Dickov’s side on loan last term.

A number of Championship clubs are also known to be monitoring the striker’s situation closely after sources on the South Coast reported Mauricio Pochettino is planning to sell a player his employers signed for an undisclosed sum, believed to be £1.8m, 28 months ago.

Clough, speaking after Saturday’s 2-1 win which saw United finish seventh in League One, again indicated a striker features on his wanted list with Livingston’s Marc McNulty recently invited to train at the Redtooth Academy.

“If we can get a few players in and keep the majority of these lads then there’s nothing to be frightened of for us,” he said.

“It’s just a bit of quality we need to continue the momentum we’ve built up in the last few months. That’s what we’re looking for, quality.”

Sharp started his professional career with United in 2004 before returning three years later after scoring 57 goals in 95 appearances for Scunthorpe. However, he failed to command a regular place in then manager Kevin Blackwell’s starting 11 and completed a permanent move to Rovers on the eve of the 2010/11 campaign.

Meanwhile, Clough could discover later this month whether Cardiff City’s John Brayford and Liverpool’s Conor Coady will be allowed to return to United after completing loan spells at Bramall Lane.

“Conor will be going back to Liverpool and then speaking with Brendan Rodgers, ” Clough said. “We still don’t know whether the division Cardiff are in (after being relegated from the Premier League) will have an effect on what they do.”