The signing of Conor Hourihane was met with open arms by most Sheffield United fans. But could the Aston Villa man actually be sent back in January?
Well, judging on what Slavisa Jokanovic said recently, it doesn’t seem to be completely out of the question. The United boss admitted a few days back that he wants 2 wingers, and a holding midfielder in January.
“If you ask me specifically what I need. I need two wingers, and one holding midfielder. And that’s it,” Jokanovic said.
Naturally, that calls into question the future of Hourihane, who has simply not got going in red and white yet.
Conor Hourihane was signed in August on a season-long loan from Aston Villa. The Irishman was seen as an astute piece of business. He is experienced at Championship and Premier League level. Further, he is excellent on deadballs, something United have suffered so long with.
However, so far, Hourihane has been poor for United. He’s started two games. In the win at Hull, he got two assists from corners. But, being honest, his overall performance wasn’t great. The next time he started – against Millwall at Bramall Lane – he was given the nightmare treatment of being subbed after just 38 minutes.
His performances have been flat and subdued. And instead of pushing John Fleck and Ollie Norwood for a starting berth, he’s giving the established Blades pair and easy ride.
For Sheffield United, January has suddenly become a bit more interesting given Hourihane’s displays thus far.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s admission that he wants three more players suggests we could see some moving out. Players like Oli Burke, Luke Freeman, and Rhian Brewster might be among them.
But his comment on wanting another holding midfielder, suggests we could see Hourihane sent back to Villa quicker than expected. It’s unlikely that the Sheffield United board will spending big money in January. Loans, then, are more likely.
However, each team can only include five loan players in the matchday squad. And with Robin Olsen, Ben Davies, and Morgan Gibbs-White unlikely to go anywhere, that leaves two spots. If Jokanovic lands one of his wingers, and a midfielder, then where does Hourihane fit? The answer is probably, nowhere.
Jokanovic and Sheffield United have a big call to make when it comes to the January window. Do they persist with Villa loanee Hourihane? Or they look to terminate the deal early and look elsewhere?
As things stand, you’d have to say looking at someone else might be the best option.