Sheffield United interim boss Paul Heckingbottom insists the decisions about new contracts for players will be left to the new manager.
Kean Bryan, Phil Jagielka, John Lundstram, Simon Moore and Jack Rodwell all see their current deals expire at the end of the season and, with the exception of Lundstram, their futures remain uncertain with no permanent manager in place.
Midfielder Lundstram looks set to leave Bramall Lane after rejecting several new offers and deliberately letting his contract run down so that he can leave on a free transfer.
Under-23 coach Heckingbottom was placed in charge until the end of the season following Chris Wilder’s departure on the eve of the Premier League game against Leicester in March.
The Blades hierarchy have been looking for a new manager since and chief executive Stephen Bettis this week confirmed Heckingbottom was on a five-man shortlist for the permanent job, having impressed with how he has handled things under difficult circumstances, which have included overseeing the club’s inevitable relegation.
The 43-year-old has his own thoughts on which players should be retained and, should he not be selected for the job, will offer his input to the new manager, but ultimately Heckingbottom knows such decisions will be for the incoming boss – whoever that is.
“We were already having those conversations anyway in terms of feedback from all the staff on the current squad and players’ situations,” said Heckingbottom.
“I think that only changes when the manager comes in, because that’s when you have to drive it. Whether it’s convincing people to stay, whether it’s telling people they’re not needed, whether it’s trying to identify and capture new signings, so for me nothing has changed, we’ve been having those discussions anyway.
“But, certainly, once you are the man, once that man comes through the door and he’s here and then tasked with driving these things forward, we will have as much information as possible and as much help there ready to go.
“Let’s just talk hypothetically. Say if a new manager has been agreed, and no one knows about it, not one of us knows, he’s already in a job so we can’t get him in, he’ll still be doing his own homework on players and watching players and watching games and asking about. But until he takes the job he can’t be telling people yes or no, your career at Sheffield United is over or we want you to stay, he can’t be doing that.
“So, as I said, there will be lots of work going off probably between people on that shortlist, they will probably all be doing their own homework on these things. So yeah, it has to be the manager or the manager who comes in that has the greatest input in regards to that.
“It has to be left until the manager is named. Nothing has been set in stone.”
Sander Berge is set to make his long-awaited return from injury for the Blades when they travel to Tottenham on Sunday.
The Norway international midfielder has been out since mid-December with a hamstring problem but Heckingbottom has said he is ready to be included in the squad again.
Chris Basham (leg) resumed training this week but the trip to London may come too soon for the central defender, having been sidelined for six weeks. Oli McBurnie (foot), Billy Sharp (thigh) and Jack O’Connell (knee) continue their recoveries.