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Speed blow rocks Blades

Speculation linking Gary Speed with the vacant manager’s position at Swindon Town has intensified after it was revealed the 39-year-old will miss the rest of Sheffield United’s season with a back injury.

The veteran midfielder faces an operation before Christmas on a bulging disc in his back and it is unlikely he will play again this term. United manager Kevin Blackwell has confirmed an approach from Robins’ chairman Andrew Fitton for Speed to become the next manager at The County Ground, and insists that he won’t stand in the Welshman’s way if he decided to make the League Two club his first as manager.

“There has been contact from Swindon with Gary,” Blackwell confirmed, “and I have told him that whatever he does is fine by me.

“He is injured at the moment, could face a long rehabilitation and is 39 years of age, but he has options on the table.”

Speed has previously hinted that this season could be his last as a player and currently holds a coaching position at United, similar to one he had at former club Bolton Wanderers where he was appointed First Team Coach after Sam Allardyce quit the Reebok Stadium.

Whilst describing losing Speed’s services on the pitch as a ‘massive blow’, Blackwell hinted that he would like to keep him at the club in a coaching capacity.

“Ideally he would like to stay and learn more about the management role from the likes of Sam Ellis and myself,” Blackwell continued.

“We have allowed him to do some coaching, both on the training field and at pitch-side. He has a lot going for him in terms of expertise and man management already and just needs some more hands on experience.

“It will be up to Gary to decide.”

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