By Wayne Veysey

27th Nov, 2018 | 12:17pm

Exclusive: Sheffield United line up ambitious swoop for Southampton attacker

EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke

Sheffield United are lining up an ambitious loan move for Southampton striker Shane Long, Football Insider sources understands.

Blades boss Chris Wilder is keen to bring in a new forward during the January transfer window to boost his side’s Premier League promotion bid.

Wilder is a big admirer of Long and sees the Republic of Ireland international as someone who could prove the difference in the second half of the season by boosting his striking options.

Long effectively finds himself as fourth-choice striker at Southampton with Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini ahead of him in Mark Hughes’ plans at St Mary’s.

The 31-year-old has made only five starts for Southampton so far this season and has yet to score.

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Sheffield United are currently in fifth spot in the Championship table, three points off the automatic promotion places, and the club’s board are ready to back Wilder in the January window with substantial funds.

It remains to be seen if Southampton would consider letting Long leave as they are in involved a relegation battle this season, but Sheffield United are ready to offer the Irishman the opportunity of more regular first-team football.

In other Championship promotion news, it can be revealed the Yorkshire giants have lined up a stunning January triple signing swoop.