(Reuters) - Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has told club captain Billy Sharp that he can leave the club in January if he is keen to secure regular first-team opportunities elsewhere.
British media reported several Championship (second tier) clubs have shown an interest in signing striker Sharp, who has started just one Premier League game this season.
“I spoke to him about three weeks ago about it, knowing what would come up in January,” Wilder told reporters on Thursday.
“If I was in the Championship and needed someone to give us a boost in January and score us some goals between now and the end of the season and saw that Bill Sharp wasn’t playing at Sheffield United then I would be asking the question.
“Obviously from an individual point of view, Billy is disappointed he’s not playing. The decision is with him and if he comes to me and says he needs to be playing then I will respect that.”
Sharp has captained United to two promotions since joining the club for a third spell in 2015.
Wilder said he hopes Sharp could carry on with the Blades, highlighting his importance in the dressing room.
“He has an important part to play - and has played an important part with the pressure he has put on the strikers,” Wilder added.
“From my point of view, the example he has set, and is setting, and the influence he has on those young players is huge.”
On Friday, Sheffield United host 16th-placed West Ham United, who appear rejuvenated under new manager David Moyes with back-to-back wins over Bournemouth and Gillingham.
Wilder believes West Ham will be a “different proposition” to the team that drew 1-1 with the Blades in October when Manuel Pellegrini was in charge at the London Stadium.
“There’s a different manager, a different message going into the players,” Wilder added. “Looking at the manager’s CV and what he’s done, David Moyes is a hugely-respected figure in the game.
“With the attributes that he will bring to a talented group of players, I wouldn’t bet against them staying up.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis