Having initially hatched a plan to place the 25-year-old at another English Football League club, or possibly arrange a return to Scotland after spending a brief spell at Kilmarnock last season, United’s player development gurus are now ready to recommend Eastwood. remains in South Yorkshire.
The change of heart was prompted by Michael Verrips’ move to Fortuna Sittard, with the Sjor’s Ultee team also inserting a ‘right to buy’ option into the deal.
Eastwood has become an increasingly important figure at Bramall Lane in recent weeks, being named on the bench for Paul Heckingbottom’s four games in charge.
Slavisa Jokanovic, who was sacked as manager in November, chose Michael Verrips as Wes Foderingham’s assistant when on loan Robin Olsen succumbed to injury. But Heckingbottom, who will be hoping to maintain his 100 per cent league record since replacing the Serb when United visited Derby County at the weekend, preferred Eastwood as his number two – although that situation seems set to change if Olsen stays in South Yorkshire.
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United’s deal with AS Roma to sign the Sweden international contains a break clause, which can be activated during this month’s transfer window. However, Heckingbottom declined to divulge which parties are capable of activating it – or how many must decide to pull the lever – when asked about it before Christmas. Despite a rocky start to life in South Yorkshire, there is also a consensus among United’s coaching staff that Olsen remains a top-quality professional whose abilities will eventually shine.
Aaron Ramsdale, who has steadily established himself in the England squad since joining Arsenal this season, also struggled with a crisis of confidence and form at the start of his second stint with United before finally getting good at the game. during the second half of the campaign. – although his performances were not enough to prevent his employers from being relegated from the Premier League.
However, Aston Villa’s reported interest in Olsen threatens to cloud the issue, potentially forcing United back into the transfer market.
“All the ones (loans) that we have granted can be terminated in January,” Heckingbottom explained. “Some of them we can do with the player. Others require the parent club and us and, in some cases, the player as well. They are more complex than people often realize, but that’s how it is in football now.
Despite being only 10 when he joined United’s youth programme, Eastwood has spent most of his career with them elsewhere. After completing several non-league internships, he then moved to Chesterfield, to continue his development before heading to Scunthorpe, Rugby Park and Grimsby Town.
In September, Eastwood was snapped up by Portsmouth, replacing Gavin Bazunu and Alex Bass who had been left out of an EFL Trophy tie against Wimbledon due to international obligations and Covid-19 restrictions respectively.
Although Eastwood appeared in that match, he no longer played for Danny Cowley’s side and returned to South Yorkshire a week later.