George Long aims to use tonight’s game against Notts County as a springboard back into Sheffield United’s first team.
The goalkeeper has been told by Nigel Adkins he will start the second-round tie after impressing coaching staff with his performances during training.
Long, who has made three appearances so far this term, has spent much of the season deputising for Mark Howard but told The Star: “I want to be starting games. I think you’d be surprised if I thought anything different. I’ve been working hard and I’m learning all the time so, together with a few other lads who haven’t been starting much lately, this is a very important game and, going forward, a very important competition.”
Adkins, despite dropping Long from his first choice league eleven following the opening day defeat at Gillingham, is known to retain huge faith in the 21-year-old’s talents.
Citing the United manager’s own playing career - he kept goal for Tranmere Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Bangor City - Long added: “It’s really valuable to have a manager who was also a ‘keeper. We’re lucky because it doesn’t happen often but he understands the position and the challenges that it presents.”
With the contest against County set to go straight to penalties if the scores are level at the end of normal time, Long said: “I’ve been doing lots of works with the analysts and the strikers who enjoy taking them. We want to avoid them though.”