Sheffield United: Chris Wilder hands academy stars a first team challenge

Chris Wilder takes a keen interest in Sheffield United's academy
Chris Wilder takes a keen interest in Sheffield United's academy

Sheffield United’s youngsters have been given an extra incentive to perform after Chris Wilder, the League One club’s manager, insisted he is “not scared” to select academy players.

But Wilder, who named 11 graduates of United’s youth system in the squad which visited Grimsby Town last week, acknowledged home-grown talent will not receive favourable treatment from Bramall Lane’s coaching staff.

“Sometimes the youngsters don’t give you that obvious experience and know-how, but they give you that youthfulness and freshness, freedom to do stuff off the cuff,” Wilder said. “Certainly, Harry (Chapman) has that and has proved that. We have an academy, and we will use them, but they have to be good enough.

“There’s a pathway there, and they have to earn that right. I have never been scared to chuck players in. We all like to see the local boys play.”

Although Chapman is on a season long loan from Middlesbrough, Wilder used his presence at United to illustrate that ability rather than age will influence his selection policy this term. Chapman could make his ...appearance since leaving Teesside when United host Shrewsbury Town this weekend. Together with fellow teenagers Louis Reed and Aaron Ramsdale, he missed Sunday’s 4-1 win over Chesterfield after being called-up by England.

“In an ideal world you want everyone fit and available,” Wilder said. “But you also get injuries and suspensions, it’s part and parcel of professional football. But what they do is provide an opportunity for somebody else.”

United, who visit FC Halifax Town in the FA Youth Cup second-round tonight, face Bolton Wanderers at the same stage of the competition proper next month. Mark Howard, their former goalkeeper, will miss the tie after damaging a ligament in his hand.