SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson is adamant that a Football League decision to cut the number of substitutes managers can name on their team sheet next season will not hamper the development of young players at Bramall Lane.
Involving members of the academy and development squads in preparations for first-team fixtures has, in the past, been viewed as an important part of an aspiring professional’s education.
But with financial concerns prompting many of United’s rivals to cut the number of playing staff on their books, officials at the organisation’s Lancashire headquarters recently rubber-stamped the change from seven replacements to five.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for us,” Wilson said.
“You can’t use all seven so it’s not going to hit anything we’ll be able to do during a game.
“It does mean, of course, that you might not have the same flexibility on the bench.
“But everyone is playing to the same rules so, for me, it’s not really going to be an issue even though it does slightly lessen your options.
“Good youngsters will still develop.”
“I don’t think it was done for sporting reasons though.”
The issue of player development is especially pertinent at United given the investment they have ploughed into their youth programme in recent years. Having reached the final of the FA Youth Cup last term, several of coach John Pemberton’s proteges are expected to feature at senior level for United over the coming months.
Although United were not a driving force behind the initial proposal, they did not challenge the idea when it was raised during a meeting of FL members.