English League 1

Blades struggles baffle Morgan

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Thu, 11 Apr 2013 17:57:00

Wolfsburg defender Simon Kjaer has played down suggestions that his future lies away from the Bundesliga club.

The Denmark international, who is currently under contract until June 2014, has had a difficult time since his move from Italian club Palermo in 2010 and spent time on loan at Roma.

But Kjaer is keen to fight for his first-team spot in Dieter Hecking's side and insists he is happy at the Volkswagen Arena.

He told Norddeutscher Rundfunk: "I have been in talks with Mr Allofs (Wolfsburg's general manager). We will see what he is out for in the summer and then we will also learn what the manager wants to do.

"If they say that I have to leave, then I will have no choice but to accept it. I am not out to make any fuss."

The 24-year-old was U's boss Joe Dunne's first new signing in January when he arrived from Portsmouth, for whom he had made 13 appearances over the first half of this season.

But Compton has managed just one start and six substitute outings for Colchester since his arrival and will not be offered a new deal at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Dunne told the club's official website: "It's never nice to have to tell a player he's no longer needed and that was the case with Jack.

"He's been a great professional in his time here but found it hard to break into the first team. I wish him all the best in his endeavours elsewhere and thank him for the hard work he put in here."

On-loan striker Troy Hewitt has also returned to parent club QPR having stepped off the bench just once for Colchester during his month-long stay with the club.

Bentley expressed his desire to keep the player in question, and further senior squad members could be heading for the exit door before the start of next season.

"Unfortunately one of the lads I'm desperate to keep, and he's desperate to stay, won't be staying," he told the Morecambe Visitor.

"His contract will probably be terminated so he's got a chance to get another club and do a bit of work and cut down on his travel.

"It's a massive blow for us. I've got a lot of time for the lad and he's been a good signing for us and he was keen to stay as well.

"But it's all part of the cutbacks we've got to make because we can't afford to keep him. We now need to look and identify a replacement for him."

Latics sit outside the League One relegation zone on goal difference following Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat at Preston, in which top scorer Baxter picked up his 10th booking of the season to land a two-match ban.

The former Everton youngster started in a midfield role at Deepdale, with Robbie Simpson and Lee Barnard spearheading an attack that was bolstered by the second-half introductions of Kirk Millar and Matt Smith, understandably leaving Johnson with the feeling he has players ready to step up to the plate.

"That's a big loss for us, obviously," he said of Baxter's suspension. "Now we've got other people to come in.

"We're lucky enough to have a squad where we've got people chomping at the bit, ready to come in."

One man who could find his first-team place under threat is left-back Jonathan Grounds.

Johnson pulled few punches in his assessment of the penalty incident leading to Preston's first goal in midweek, in which Jeffrey Monakana's cross struck Ground's outstretched arm, and sympathy was in short supply.

"From my point of view it's bad defending," he said. "He should work his feet quicker, he should get out there quicker.

"He's turning his back and throwing his arm up in the air. What do you expect?"

Barnsley-born Morgan, 35, who spent nine years as a player at Bramall Lane, has been placed in charge until the end of the season following the surprise sacking of Danny Wilson with just five games remaining.

Wilson's 23-month spell in charge ended in the sack on Wednesday and club owner Kevin McCabe revealed in a press conference on Thursday it was the Blades' stuttering home form that had cost the 53-year-old his job.

United have won only seven home league games this season, drawing nine and losing four, but the club can still gain automatic promotion.

Despite sitting sixth in the table, they trail second-placed Bournemouth by six points with two games in hand.

When asked why the Blades had struggled in front of their own fans, Morgan, who said he had been shocked by Wilson's departure, added: "I've no idea. If I knew the answer I'd have aired it before now.

"Is it pressures from playing at home? Is it the big crowds? Do we freeze?

"The team structure is there, the players are there, the ability's there, so there has to be something and we'll have a look at it and address everything we can.

"As coaching staff we can only do so much and like I said to the players this morning, they've put themselves in a fantastic position and it will be them that clinch it, or let it go."

Wilson's side were on the verge of automatic promotion last season but faltered after leading goalscorer Ched Evans was jailed for rape and lost out in a penalty shootout to Huddersfield in the play-off final.

The club brought in Nick Blackman from Blackburn in the summer but have struggled for goals since his departure to Reading for ?1.2million in January.

Morgan, forced to retire as a Blades player due to a knee injury sustained in 2010, became reserve team coach at Bramall Lane soon after.

He said: "Danny's always been great with me and has always said I had all the characteristics to have a career in coaching, as an assistant manager and as a manager, he's always been very open.

"I spoke with him yesterday and he said if the opportunity is there, take it and enjoy it.

"That is the measure of the man because he's just been relieved of his duties and he's got enough about him to wish somebody else good luck.

"That's how he is. I owe a lot to him, both for my playing career and obviously getting me going in my coaching career as well.

"He gave me my debut as a player (at Barnsley) and got me involved in this side so I'll always owe him a lot."

McCabe, who stepped down as club chairman at the end of 2010 but who remains the club's owner, said a change in manager would hopefully bring the best out of the players, especially at Bramall Lane.

"I believe Chris has got a way of leading Sheffield United to get more out of the team at the moment and hopefully get us across the line," he said.

"For some reason we're unsuccessful at Bramall Lane and that's a statistical fact.

"It's perplexing but it's a fact and I'm hoping that Chris and his style will make us successful at Bramall Lane in the remaining three (home) fixtures.

"Our exemplary away results speak for themselves, so that's my feelings and they're shared by people on the club board.

"Passion is an over-used word but Chris has got leadership style that includes aggression, and that's said in a proper fashion, that may get more out of the players."

McCabe ruled out a possible return to Bramall Lane for former manager Neil Warnock.

When asked directly, McCabe said: "No, probably not."

Warnock was sacked by Leeds following their recent defeat at home to Derby.

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