There are five Sheffield United players who will be out of contract at the end of this season.

Captain Billy Sharp, forwards David McGoldrick and Conor Washington, left-back Daniel Lafferty and midfielder Paul Coutts make up the quintet.

Meanwhile, Martin Cranie is on a short-term deal until the end of January.

Who should the Blades keep?

Sharp is probably the player with the most reason to be awarded a new contract. An academy graduate, the striker is also the skipper and talisman of the team.

Not only that but Sharp is also United’s top scorer with an impressive 12 goals in 21 games in all competitions in 2018/19.

However, he will turn 33 next February and if the Blades are promoted to the Premier League, the decision of whether to retain him or not becomes harder. The heart would say give Sharp at least 12 months in the top flight. Yet the head would point to the fact that he struggled last time he played at that level with Southampton.

If United don’t go up, then surely Sharp should be retained.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Elsewhere the decisions become a little trickier. The next most likely candidate is Coutts. Before a broken leg ended his campaign in October 2017, the 30-year-old was a key player. In fact his absence was arguably why the Blades’ promotion push fell away in 2017/18.

Yet this term Chris Wilder has addressed an over reliance on Coutts by bringing in Oliver Norwood. In fact it has worked so well that the former has made just eight appearances – all from the bench.

If United go up Coutts should probably be released, but if not perhaps a new deal is sensible.

What about the rest?

McGoldrick and Washington are interesting cases. Both arriving on free transfers in the summer, there is a sense they were all Wilder could afford rather than what he really wanted.

There is no doubting McGoldrick’s work rate, but as a goalscorer his finishing leaves much to be desired. The 31-year-old has six strikes this season, but has wasted so many more chances.

Washington is fourth choice upfront and one gets the impression that if, as expected, Wilder signs another striker in January his game time will be limited. Both attackers should probably be released.

As should Lafferty, who has managed just one appearance in 2018/19 and is behind Enda Stevens and Marvin Johnson for a place on the left flank.

Finally Cranie is a capable deputy in central defence, but does not seem suited to Wilder’s inventive three-man back line. Other options should perhaps be sought.

Have something to tell us about this article?