With everyone due back at Carrington for the start of pre-season in the next couple of days, one of the first players to be knocking on the manager’s door will be winger Lee Martin. Martin has effectively spent the last two and a half years out on loan, enjoying spells at Antwerp, Rangers, Stoke City, Plymouth and Sheffield United in that period, and at 21 years old the youngster from Taunton will be keen to find out how he fits into the manager’s plans – if at all.
Martin featured in just nine games for the Bramall Lane club in the second half of last season before succumbing to a knee ligament injury (injuries also curtailed or disrupted his spells at Rangers and Plymouth), but the Yorkshire club’s rumoured interest in recruiting the player on a permanent basis suggests he did enough to impress Blades boss Kevin Blackwell. Should SAF decree that Lee’s future lies away from Old Trafford and were Sheffield United to come in with an offer, would the interest be reciprocated? An interview with the Yorkshire Daily Post would suggest so:
“I’m still at United and it’s a matter of going back on the first of July and speaking to the gaffer. It’s all up in the air and nothing has been said yet. It’s a bit weird and just a waiting game at the minute. I enjoyed my time at Sheffield United and would definitely go back if an offer came in. But it’s out of my hands.”
They definitely have a great chance (of achieving promotion to the Premier League). I think they have got one of the strongest squads in the Championship and with the gaffer, Kevin Blackwell, they’ve got a really talented manager. It’s a massive club which belongs in the Premiership. They know they have to get there next season and after such a strong finish under Kevin they will fancy their chances.”
Elsewhere, with the transfer window now officially open, a number of former United academy players are on the move. Former Reserves skipper David Jones is the most high-profile, leaving relegated Derby County to join up with former reserves team-mate Sylvan Ebanks-Blake at Wolves in a deal worth £1.2m. Goalkeeper Ben Williams has left Crewe to join Carlisle United (This interview with Radio Cumbria includes some interesting accounts of his time at United), while forward Eddie Johnson has rejoined Crewe on trial after being released by Bradford.
Meanwhile a more recent academy graduate seemingly has clubs fighting to secure his services. Ritchie Jones’ contract with United officially expired yesterday and, as reported here last week, Swindon have offered him the chance to spend pre-season with them. The Wiltshire side face competition for the midfielder’s signing though, with Burnley, Tranmere Rovers and Hearts of the SPL all showing interest.