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Blackwell’s stance no deterrent

Kevin Blackwell’s tough public stance in the transfer market has not managed to deflect increasing speculation surrounding the futures of several members of his Sheffield United squad.

After recent media reports linked Rob Hulse and Stephen Quinn with moves away from Bramall Lane, to Derby County and Middlesbrough respectively, Blackwell issued a firm rebuke of the gossip – insisting that any players leaving will do so on United’s terms. Now Luton Shelton, who scored twice for Jamaica in their 7-0 World Cup Qualifying victory over the Bahamas on Sunday, reportedly features high on Gary McAllister’s Leeds United shopping list in preparation for another season in Coca-Cola League One.

McAllister has also been linked with moves for Andy Cole, Kevin Phillips and Derek Riordan as he begins his close-season recruitment drive after their Play-Off Final defeat to Doncaster Rovers, and could make his move to bring Shelton to Elland Road if Blackwell deems the speedy striker surplus to his requirements. Since the United chief’s predecessor Neil Warnock signed Shelton from Helsingborgs for £1.85m in January last year, first team opportunities have been hard to come by for the Jamaican, who has only featured three times under Blackwell. The striker has scored four goals in United colours, and still has two years left to run on his current contract at Bramall Lane.

United’s monopoly of strikers has also led to rumours linking last season’s top scorer James Beattie with a £6m move to Premier League outfit Fulham. Cottagers’ manager Roy Hodgson is rumoured to have identified Beattie as a possible replacement for his departed captain Brian McBride, and could be persuaded to test United’s resolve with a firm offer that would shatter their record received transfer fee, and present the Blades with a £2m profit on their investment in the former England international.

Meanwhile, Hull City have quashed speculation linking former Blade Colin Kazim-Richards with a move to the KC Stadium. Kazim-Richards, currently on Euro 2008 duty with Turkey, had been linked with a £2m move to the recently-promoted Tigers from Fenerbahçe. But Hull City chairman Phil Duffen confirmed there was ‘nothing in’ the speculation. “His (Kazim-Richards’) name has not been mentioned by the manager or the scouting staff,” Duffen said.

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