Louis Reed, the Sheffield United midfielder, could be granted another chance to stake his claim for a first-team role next season when Huddersfield Town visit Bramall Lane tomorrow night after impressing manager Nigel Clough with his “intelligence” and “maturity” since the South Yorkshire club resumed training ahead of the new League One campaign.
Reed, aged 17, made his professional debut during last term’s victory over Rotherham following a series of impressive displays at academy and under-21 level.
Reed started United’s opening two friendlies against Burton Albion and Northampton, and Clough again named Reed in his first-choice 11 for Friday’s victory over Dundee.
The Bramall Lane boss explained ahead of United’s latest warm-up fixture that coaching staff have been encouraged by Reed’s progress so far.
“Louis has done ever so well and, the challenge for him now, is to continue in the same vein,” he told The Star.
“He’s caught the eye and done nearly everything we’ve asked of him. If he wants to get to where we wants to be then he’s got to keep on doing that over an extended period of time.
“Obviously, at this stage of his career, Louis has still got lots of learning and improving to do. But the best thing about him is that, despite being so young, he’s shown great maturity and intelligence. He’s used the ball well and is aware of what’s been going on around him.”
Clough’s sentiments were echoed by his counterparts at Northampton Town, including manager Chris Wilder, when United bounced back from a 4-0 defeat by Albion with a 1-1 draw.
Seventy-two hours later, Jamie Murphy, Jose Baxter, Chris Basham and Marc McNulty were on target during Friday’s hastily-arranged fixture with Dundee.
Although Clough has so far rotated the options at his disposal, he confirmed Huddersfield’s arrival will mark a new phase in United’s preparations for August 9th’s League One curtainraiser against Bristol City.
“From now on, we’ll be looking to give people 70 minutes in games and introduce a little more structure,” he said.
“To begin with, we wanted to see organisation and work on a few things but, primarily, it was all about getting the lads working again and easing them back in. That’s the process of pre-season, or how we like to do things anyway.
“We’ll be building and improving on aspects of our play as we go through. Looking for indications about performance.
“Everything we are doing is tailored towards being ready, or as ready as we possibly can be, for that first game.”
Reed, who became the youngest player ever to represent United at league level when he appeared against Rotherham, features among a crop of emerging talent Clough is convinced, providing they demonstrate the right attitude and application, has the potential to command regular places in his first-choice 11.
“Otis Khan and Connor Dimaio have also done well and we’ll be looking to give them as much game time as we can,” he said. “They’ve shown they are worthy of that opportunity and they’ve got to continue doing the same. That’s what separates those who make it from the ones who don’t.”
Meanwhile, Khan scored twice as United’s youngsters came from behind to beat Bradford Park Avenue 3-2.Khan netted his first on the rebound after seeing a penalty saved before dispatching a clinical finish. Joe Cheeseman pounced to seal the win.