First-team incentive for Sheffield United starlets

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PLAYERS from Sheffield United’s academy have been handed an extra incentive to reach the FA Youth Cup Final after Micky Adams, the manager, revealed he has no qualms about promoting through the ranks despite the first-team’s predicament towards the foot of the Championship table.

John Pemberton’s squad enter tonight’s second leg of their semi-final tie with Aston Villa enjoying a 1-0 advantage following last month’s victory in the Midlands. Their progress through to the later stages of the tournament has been a rare success story at Bramall Lane this term as Adams battles to prevent his side being relegated to League One.

United are seven points adrift of safety following Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers. They return to action against Middlesbrough this weekend before hosting Cardiff City on Tuesday.

Adams, like his academy director, has refused to make grand predictions about when Pemberton’s charges will be ready to make the step-up.

But he told The Star: “If someone proves they are good enough then they’ll get their chance.

“If I think there’s someone in the system that can help us get out of the situation we’re in then I’ll given them a go - absolutely, no problem.

“A few of them have already been involved with us lately and when we beat Leeds recently we had Harry Maguire on the bench.”

Adams was scathing in his criticism of United’s defending at Loftus Road, admitting they have become “a soft touch” away from home.

Nevertheless, he was full of praise when it came to the commitment of his players against the leaders. “I can’t fault them for that,” said Adams. “No way. To be fair to the lads, though that’s been the case ever since I came in here.”

- Reading beat Preston 2-1 last night, so the Blades’ league position was unaltered.