Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson has lavished praise on youngster George Long and is convinced the goalkeeper has a “great future” in the sport.
Long, one of the heroes of the team who reached the FA Youth Cup final last term, made his second start of the 2011/12 season at Rotherham United. His previous appearance came in the first round of the competition against Burton Albion.
The teenager, 18 next month, staked his claim for a regular first-team berth with a series of fine stops to deny the Millers. He kept out efforts from Lewis Grabban and Jason Taylor as United snatched a dramatic last-gasp Ched Evans winner in front of more than 4,000 plus travelling fans.
It was Micky Adams who gave Long his United debut in the final match of last season. He became the youngest goalkeeper in club history to play in a competitive fixture. It was a baptism of fire for the youngster as the Premier League-bound Swans romped to a 4-0 win.
Of Long’s performance, Wilson said: “He did fantastic. You sometimes forget how old George is. His size and stature belies his age.
“I think he has got a great future in front of him. But he needs games like this because he needs to make decisions. I thought he did very well at times. He looked very assured.”
Another player given a chance to shine was Ryan Flynn. The Scottish winger, signed for an undisclosed fee from Falkirk in the summer, produced an industrious display before being taken off in the dying minutes after suffering a shin knock.
“Ryan took a whack on his shin from a tackle,” revealed Wilson. “He should be okay; it is just bruising. The early part of the game he played tucked in to the centre and I thought we didn’t pass it will enough, particularly in the first half.
“When Ryan went out into the wider position that he got more of the ball and did better.”
Wilson could not hide his delight over strikers Evans and Chris Porter getting back on the score-sheet after a couple of quiet outings.
And, after successive defeats to Wycombe Wanderers and Charlton Athletic, Wilson admitted he was pleased to get back to winning ways before the Steel City derby.
“It was a great victory against a good Rotherham side,” he said. “Our main objective was to get through and we did that. Derbies are always difficult. The form book, no matter what division you play, goes out of the window.”