SHEFFIELD UNITED are set to strengthen their interest in Middlesbrough striker Britt Assombalonga, with another of their leading attacking targets, Oli McBurnie, expected to reject the offer of a move to Bramall Lane.

Blades boss Chris Wilder needs to sign at least two forwards as he prepares for life in the Premier League, with loanees Scott Hogan and Gary Madine having returned to their parent clubs and Leon Clarke and Che Evans having been placed on the transfer list.

Wilder has identified McBurnie as a potential target, but the Swansea City striker is set to follow Graham Potter to Brighton. Potter has swapped the Liberty Stadium for the Amex, and is understood to have made the signing of McBurnie one of the preconditions of accepting the Brighton job.

That will force Wilder to look elsewhere, with Assombalonga currently his preferred alternative ahead of Brentford’s Neal Maupay.

Assombalonga scored 14 Championship goals this season, and Wilder is confident he could handle the step up to the Premier League despite never having previously played in the top-flight.

Middlesbrough’s transfer dealings are currently on hold, with Steve Gibson considering his options in the wake of Tony Pulis’ departure, but whoever is appointed to take charge, there will have to be a degree of cost-cutting this summer.

Boro received their final tranche of Premier League parachute payments last summer, and will be looking to reduce their current wage commitments to ensure they continue to fall within the parameters of the Football League’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

John Obi Mikel will not be offered a new deal, and Stewart Downing is also set to leave when his contract formally expires. Mo Besic and Jordan Hugill will not be re-signing on loan, while Martin Braithwaite is expected to make a permanent departure before the transfer window closes in early August.

Assombalonga’s position is less clear-cut, but there will be an understandable temptation to cash in if Sheffield United offer something close to the £15m fee that Boro shelled out to sign the 26-year-old from Nottingham Forest two summers ago.

Assombalonga is one of the highest-paid players on Boro’s books, and he could be sacrificed as part of a wider summer rebuild.