Sheffield United: David Brooks’ progress prompts a recruitment re-think

David Brooks celebrates his goal against Stoke City: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
David Brooks celebrates his goal against Stoke City: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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The emergence of David Brooks has prompted Sheffield United to redraft their recruitment plans, assistant manager Alan Knill admitted last night.

Brooks, who scored the winning goal during Tuesday’s friendly against Stoke City, was set to join Chesterfield on a season long loan until Chris Wilder aborted the move following his performances for England at the Toulon Tournament.

Such has been the 20-year-old’s rapid progress since that decision was announced, Knill revealed United have now postponed their search for an attacking midfielder ahead of the new Championship season, which begins when Brentford visit Bramall Lane next month.

“It’s a great problem for us,” Knill said. “A great problem to have. We thought, for his education, it might have been good for him to go out and play. But now he’s looking to get in here with us. We think he’s going to be of benefit to us next season.”

Despite keeping Brooks under wraps for much of the previous campaign - he made only four appearances after graduating from United’s Steelphalt Youth Academy - Knill acknowledged coaching staff are not surprised by the youngster’s performances this summer. Having been named player of the tournament following his international bow in France, Brooks scored his fourth goal of the League One champions’ warm-up programme against Mark Hughes’ side.

Asked where he featured in United’s plans, Knill responded: “I place David right in the squad. Last year he was probably just on the outside and hoping, towards the end of the season, to get a game. But we were chasing 100 points and wanted to keep faith with the players who had got us there.

Alan Knill is not surprised by David Brooks' progress: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Alan Knill is not surprised by David Brooks' progress: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“We told him to come back fit and strong, he’s come back fit and strong and had a great tournament with England. His confidence is really high. He doesn’t look out of place.”

“Last season, he was so close to playing,” Knill added. “The others recognise what a talent he’s got. They know he might give the ball away every so often but that he’s capable of doing something special with it.”

Despite Everton’s repeated claims to the contrary and United’s confirmation they have not received a bid, Brooks’ continues to be linked with a move to Goodison Park before the end of the transfer window. Although his displays will not have gone unnoticed by top-flight scouts, Brooks told The Star earlier this month that his sole focus remains earning a place in Wilder’s starting eleven.

“We’re not surprised that he went away with England and did so well,” Knill said. “Like I say, he could easily have played but we decided it was best to wait and he’s fitted in really well. As a lad off the pitch, he isn’t interested in anything other than playing football and doing it well. He’s got a great attitude and the rest of the lads like him. He’s fitted in so well.”

David Brooks has been one of the stars of Sheffield United's pre-season programme after graduating from their academy: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

David Brooks has been one of the stars of Sheffield United's pre-season programme after graduating from their academy: Simon Bellis/Sportimage