Sheffield United will make a decision on the futures of young pair Zak Brunt and Kacper Lopata in the coming weeks, with the duo entering the final month of their loan spell in Southend.
Both players have impressed for Southend thus far. Brunt has appeared eight times in all competitions for the Shrimpers, while Lopata has followed suit. The pair are highly-thought of at Bramall Lane and played key roles in the success of the under-23s last season.
However, the Blades now face a tricky decision in January. According to the Southend Echo, Southend are keen to keep hold of the pair. Manager Kevin Maher has insisted he would love to keep them, adding:
“They’ve been brilliant. The lads have all taken them under their wing and they’re really enjoying it here. For them it’s important to play football and this a good environment for them to do that,” Maher said.
“For both sides I think it would be positive if we could keep them.”
It remains to be seen, though, if Paul Heckingbottom will try and move them up the football ladder. Southend currently play in the National League. And while that is good for Brunt and Lopata in terms of development, the next obvious step is to see if they can cut the mustard in League Two.
These are crucial months for both Zak Brunt and Kacper Lopata. Having tasted first-team football, they’ll no doubt want to keep at it. Chances are likely to be limited at Bramall Lane as things stand, so it’s probably more a question of where, not if, the pair continue to ply their trade away from Sheffield.
Of course, Heckingbottom knows these two well. He will have their best interests at heart and will be keen to address things as soon as possible. If that means staying in Southend, then that might work for everyone involved.
The new Blades boss has already showing a willingness to see the youngsters out playing. Antwoine Hackford has signed (and scored already) for Alfreton. Kyron Gordon has gone to Boston United, while Frankie Maguire has gone to Bradford PA.
Interestingly, Hecky has brought Femi Seriki back from Beerschot. The young full-back was given his first-team debut by the new Blades boss last year. His next move, then, is likely to be a carefully thought out one.