Former Sheffield United stopper Paddy Kenny believes manager Slavisa Jokanovic’s blunt comments on Kean Bryan could spell the end of his playing career at Sheffield United, in an interview with Football Insider.
Bryan, 24, made his breakthrough in South Yorkshire last year after Jack O’Connell’s serious knee injury kept him out of the majority of the 2020/21 campaign, with the former making 13 Premier League appearances during the previous term.
However, with his contract at Bramall Lane coming to an end this summer, the centre-back is yet to sign a new deal with Jokanovic’s side and became a free agent just over a fortnight ago amid strong interest from Championship rivals West Bromwich Albion.
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Back in April, Watford, Fulham and Swansea were also said to be monitoring the 24-year-old but a deal with any side is yet to be agreed – and Sheffield United’s hierarchy are beginning to lose their patience with this situation.
As things stand, a contract offer is still on the table for Bryan with the stricken O’Connell set to remain out for another six to ten months, a devastating blow for the Blades.
Amid speculation surrounding the West Brom-linked defender’s future, Jokanovic didn’t exactly beg the 24-year-old to stay and said: “He is not with us, so I am not thinking about him. I am only thinking about the players who are with us. If something changes, then the club will tell me.”
This has only gone on to increase speculation further about his potential exit from Sheffield United and former Blades keeper Paddy Kenny is one of those who thinks this could signal the end of his time in South Yorkshire.
In an interview with Football Insider’s Adam Williams, Kenny stated: “It could be a sign (he will leave).
“If he’s not there and he’s not injured then there’s a chance that it looks like he could be leaving.
“But whether the manager doesn’t fancy him or he’s looking at different players, who knows.
“Because of the amount of injuries, I think that was the reason why he played a lot of football last season.
“The season before he’d been sent out on loan to Bolton in the lower leagues.
“The season after that he was playing in the Premier League. There was just a few too many injuries, and that’s the only reason really.”
Although it’s true to say Bryan only featured as many times as he did because of O’Connell’s injury, the latter will be out for another long spell so this potential new deal could be a major boost to Jokanovic, even if the centre-back is only utilised for squad depth.
However, this situation has dragged on for far too long now and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Blades already searching for a couple of centre-backs in the transfer market, potentially keeping Bryan out of their plans if they can get these deals over the line.
From the start of pre-season, it was clear the Serbian manager wanted clarity over players’ futures and his attention is now likely to be away from this transfer saga as he looks to prepare his players for the upcoming season.