Paul Heckingbottom explains Chris Basham succession plan, as Sheff Utd miss out on Clarke-Salter signing

Paul Heckingbottom and Chris Basham of Sheffield United

Paul Heckingbottom has provided an insight into Sheffield United’s plan for Chris Basham, amid the Blades missing out on Jake Clarke-Salter’s signing.

Basham continues to be an integral player for Sheffield United, despite reaching the twilight years of his career. Last season, he made 33 appearances either side of a knee injury.

The 33-year-old centre-back was badly missed between late February and mid April. Sheffield United lost to Millwall, Coventry and Stoke in the Championship while he was absent.

Basham was recently given a new two-year contract, which will keep him at Bramall Lane until he is 35. Other players, such as Jack Robinson and Ben Osborn, were given shorter deals – despite them being younger.

Heckingbottom knows how crucial Basham is to his system and that resulted in the veteran Englishman picking up a longer contract.

The Blades have reportedly been pursuing Jake Clarke-Salter to bolster their ranks in central defence. But according to Football Insider, the free agent is set to join QPR and will have a medical in the next 24 hours.

Clarke-Salter wouldn’t have been a direct replacement for Basham, but he would have added to Heckingbottom’s options at centre-back.

During an interview with Yorkshire Live, Heckingbottom has spoken about the plan that is in place for Basham and his eventual replacement.

“If I wanted to be selfish all my decisions would be about next season,” the boss said. “If it was just about my win ratio all my decisions would be about ‘give me the best players to win as many matches as possible’. I will just be working for next season and that’s it, done.

“But it’s not. The role is more important than that and has been asked to be in terms of making better decisions for the club longer term.

Paul Heckingbottom sets timeframe for Basham successor

“You want to start signing players in key positions and look at your succession plan and where the gaps are in the squad. The big one, and I am really pleased the board understood the importance, is signing Bash on a two-year deal rather that just activating his [one-year] option.

“We have two years now to recruit the next one. The one who can go past him. The one who can compete. One who can be developed.

“These are the decisions that might not sound sexy but they are important for the club. If you start getting these decisions right you will get success.

“It may be years down the line. But you’ll get it if you know what you are doing and can make good decisions.”

Sheffield United centre-back Chris Basham

It seems United are beginning to scout for Basham’s successor, while also developing the players already in the squad.

One option could be 20-year-old Kyron Gordon. He looked solid during five league appearances for United last term. And the youngster will be hoping for more senior opportunities during 2022-23.

But experienced options must be considered. This will help to prevent a drop off in performance between Basham retiring and Gordon getting up to speed.

Clarke-Salter may no longer be in United’s sights, but other centre-backs are certain to come on their radar this summer.