Nigel Adkins has reaffirmed his commitment to Sheffield United’s Academy players after Billy Sharp, who came through the Bramall Lane system, won the golden boot at the Star Sports Awards last night.
But the United manager warned United’s talented crop of youngsters that they will only be picked on merit, rather than sentiment.
Sharp began his career as a youngster at United and his 21 goals this season, in an otherwise disappointing campaign for Adkins’ side, is the best return from any player in South Yorkshire to date.
Che Adams was also honoured, winning the young player of the year crown, and the duo are expected to continue their partnership this weekend when United sign off their season at home to Scunthorpe United.
Louis Reed, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ben Whiteman and David Brooks have all been given a taste of life with United’s senior squad this season, and both the U18 and U21 sides have reached their respective national play-off finals.
And Adkins said: “I have always been committed to academies. What we have done at our previous clubs shows that.
“But the players will only get in if they are good enough. There’s no sentiment involved, there can’t be. Everybody understands that. We have a good group here and we want more.
“We want to keep improving what we do and driving on. That’s a good thing, because ultimately we all want the same. What’s best for Sheffield United Football Club.”
United’s U21s will face Huddersfield at Bramall Lane in their final, while the U18s play Charlton at The Valley on Monday (7pm).
“The youngsters have done very well, in reaching the finals, and of course that bodes well,” Adkins added.
“It’s important there’s that pathway through and this club has got an excellent reputation for developing players. That’s a credit to lots of people here, the leadership, the staff at the academy and of course the players and the parents themselves.”