Sheffield United: Cup progress key to development of Blades youngsters

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THEIR odds of success might be longer than Derek Dooley Way but Sheffield United are still in it to win, writes James Shield.

Danny Wilson, the South Yorkshire club’s manager, privately knows his team are unlikely to lift the Capital One Cup at Wembley in six months time.

Publicly, though, he issued a powerful statement of intent when asked to assess the tournament’s position on Bramall Lane’s list of priorities during United’s first pre-match media briefing of the new season at Shirecliffe yesterday.

“Every cup match is important. Especially if you are a League One club,” Wilson, speaking ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Burton Albion, said. “Any game you can get the public into is important.

“Make no mistake, we want to do well. As well as we possibly can.”

Although last season’s beaten play-off finalists would gladly trade progress in the knockout competitions in favour of promotion, tomorrow’s opening match of the 2012/13 season is of crucial importance.

Not only because of its symbolism but also because of long-term sporting interest and cold hard cash.

Having tasted defeat in the biggest match of his reign so far, Wilson will not want to suffer another loss as United take their first step along the road to redemption following that heart-breaking defeat by Huddersfield Town 11 weeks ago.

A plum draw in the next round could enhance the 52-year-old’s recruitment budget while victory would also offer youngsters such as Joe Ironside and Matty Harriott, who both hope to face Albion, further opportunities to enhance their footballing educations.

Wilson, who confirmed John Cofie (hip) is United’s only injury concern for the first-round tie, said: “It will be a very competitive match.

“We’ve had them watched several times and credit must go to (manager) Gary Rowett because he kept them up last season when it looked like they might spiral out.”