The financial effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still being felt at Sheffield United and could now stop them signing a new defender.

They are looking for a replacement for Jack O’Connell. O’Connell is likely to miss the entire season after having a knee operation.

Manager Chris Wilder has given a shortlist of targets to the board, but The Sheffield Star reports social distancing measures could halt business.

Professional football matches in England are still being played behind closed doors because of the crisis. It could be the case for the foreseeable future.

The losses incurred as a result of this has resulted in the Blades hierarchy trimming Wilder’s transfer budget.

A massive dent was then put in that budget following the club record £23.5m (BBC Sport) signing of Rhian Brewster from Liverpool.

It could mean that Wilder cannot make any defensive recruitment, despite O’Connell being sidelined for the long-term.

How will Sheffield United solve defender issue?

Preston North End v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship

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Wilder also doesn’t want to simply sign a player to bolster his squad numbers. Unless they are on his shortlist, the 53-year-old isn’t interested.

That list of targets has been reduced recently with Terence Kongolo no longer conceded a viable option. United had been interested in the Huddersfield Town centre-back.

However, during negotiations medical tests revealed Kongolo hasn’t fully recovered from a foot injury suffered while on loan at Fulham earlier this year.

Ben Davies is another being considered, but Preston North End’s valuation of £10m is out of the Blades’ price range. They may offer a loan to buy option to get around it.

The South Yorkshire side are also interested in Bournemouth’s Diego Rico, although it’s not clear how much the Cherries would want for the Spaniard.

Premier League clubs have until 5pm on October 16 to sign players from the EFL.

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