Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has accused some senior players of letting David Brooks down by denying the youngster an opportunity to showcase his talents.
Brooks, a graduate of the League One club’s Steelphalt Academy, started Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy tie against Walsall after being promoted into the first-team squad this term.
Although Wilder absolved the teenager of any responsibility for the defeat which ended United’s hopes in the competition, he said: “Brooksy has been lively in training. He’s been with us all season.
“But I think it’s difficult for a young player to impress when the players around him aren’t performing. When the overall performance of the team around him isn’t good, then it’s going to be hard for him to be a shining light.
“He kept going and tried to cause them problems but, for too long in that game, I thought the lad was feeding on scraps.”
Brooks and Ben Whiteman, another midfielder to progress through United’s youth system this year, are both hoping to retain their places in Wilder’s plans when Port Vale visit Bramall Lane next weekend.
“When these lads come in, yes, they can’t expect any favours,” Wilder said. “Nobody, no matter stage they are at, can. But, at the same time, the more experienced lads have got to help them show what they can do because they are good players. We know that and we think a lot about them. But I don’t think that happened.”
United were scheduled to meet Jon Whitney’s team in League One tomorrow but the game was postponed due to international call-ups. Louis Reed, Harry Chapman and Aaron Ramsdale are all away on England duty.