Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has insisted both George Long and Mark Howard remain integral parts of Bramall Lane’s future despite his plan to let one of them depart on loan next term, writes James Shield.
The two goalkeepers are set to begin their duel for a starting place when United’s first team squad begins its pre-season programme with a friendly at Burton Albion this weekend.
Although Clough has refused to offer any selection guarantees ahead of August’s 9th’s League One opener against Bristol City, he told The Star: “Basically, we just want them both to be playing. It’s better for them and, crucially, it’s better for us because it means if we do have to make a change then the person coming back in will be sharp and ready to go.”
“They’re both good goalkeepers who we’ve got a lot of belief in,” Clough added. “But, in their position, opportunities are obviously limited.
“Certainly to a much greater degree than if they were an outfield player. “
Although not all temporary transfers would permit United to recall either goalkeeper providing they give 24 hours notice, Clough insisted George Willis’ presence afforded them some flexibility.
“He’s a talented lad and he can give us protection from the bench,” Clough said. “That’s potentially an opportunity for him to also show what he can do.
“We think this is something which is best for the players concerned and also us as a club as a whole. Everyone could benefit.”