Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder says signing a new centre-back in January remains a likely possibility.
The Blades are without Jack O’Connell for the rest of this season after the defender underwent knee surgery.
Yet despite plenty of rumours, a replacement didn’t arrive during the last transfer window.
United have struggled without O’Connell, having failed to keep a clean sheet in eight matches in all competitions in 2020/21. They are bottom of the Premier League having picked up just one point during that time.
“I’ve not had that discussion with the board,” Wilder told The Yorkshire Post when asked about signing a new defender. “But we do need to improve in that position.
“We are always watching and looking, in the recruitment world. Some players who were available get themselves back in the team and the door closes. Others open.
“So it’s a moving game and we have to be on the ball. There’ll be conservations going on, between agents and ourselves to see who is available.”
Who could Sheffield United sign in January?
In O’Connell’s absence, Jack Robinson initially replaced him on the left side of a back three. However, with the Blades struggling Wilder has more recently switched Enda Stevens into the position.
Usually considered a wing-back, with Stevens dropping deeper Max Lowe has been brought in on the left flank. Yet neither Robinson or Stevens have quite got the balance between defence and attack that O’Connell possesses.
Which, in truth, is tricky. That’s because O’Connell is one of the famed overlapping centre-backs. Solid in defence, the 26-year-old also has the dynamism and confidence to get forwards and link up play in the final third.
Robinson is a decent defender, but lacks the same strengths when attacking. Stevens is more adept getting forwards, but isn’t a natural centre-back.
United were linked with three Championship options in the last window. One, in Terence Kongolo, has since joined Fulham. The others are Preston North End’s Ben Davies and Diego Rico of Bournemouth.
Both are comfortable playing on the left of a back three. Rico also has experience as a left-back. They are both likely to remain on the radar of the South Yorkshire club.
Whether anyone new also emerges remains to be seen.