David Unsworth, who is poised to reject the opportunity of becoming Kilmarnock manager in order to stay at Bramall Lane, has backed David Weir to prove a success with Sheffield United.
Weir, the former Everton and Scotland defender, took charge of the League One club last week after parting company with Goodison Park.
Unsworth, who played alongside the 43-year-old on Merseyside, said: “David is a great football man and also a great bloke.
“He’s got all the credentials to become a very, very good manager and I’m convinced he’s going to be a big hit here.
“I know David well. Not only from being at Everton but also because we did our UEFA Pro Licence together too.”
The Star understands that Unsworth, who holds a prominent position at United’s academy, is set to remain in South Yorkshire despite being granted permission to hold talks with Kilmarnock about succeeding Kenny Shiels last weekend.
Rugby Park officials approached United on Friday evening after being impressed by Unsworth’s work at both Shirecliffe and Preston North End where he enjoyed a spell as caretaker before returning to Bramall Lane six months ago.
Having enjoyed a distinguished playing career, which also saw him represent the likes of West Ham and Portsmouth before helping his present employers reach the Premier League in 2006, Unsworth is regarded as one of the brightest young minds in the coaching business.
He served as Chris Morgan’s assistant following Danny Wilson’s departure towards the end of last season.
Speaking before Weir’s arrival, Unsworth revealed his pride at being appointed United’s head of academy coaching as part of the club’s response to the Elite Player Performance Plan.
“Sheffield United has got an excellent reputation for producing home-grown talent and bringing players through the system,” he said. “I absolutely loved my time here as a player - they were some of the most enjoyable I had in the game - and so to be able to do this job, working with the youngsters, is a joy too.
“It’s something I’m very passionate about and I’m doing it at a club I’m very passionate about as well.”
Kilmarnock have been searching for Shiels’ replacement since sacking the former Coleraine and Larne chief last week.
Michael Johnston, the Scottish Premier League club’s chairman, is also known to have interviewed Queen of the South’s Allan Johnston and Henning Berg, previously of Blackburn Rovers, Lillestrøm and Lyn Oslo, while former Chelsea defender Albert Ferrer and Pako Ayestaran, who worked with Rafael Benitez at Liverpool, have also been linked with the role.
Meanwhile, United’s George Long hopes to win his first England under-20 cap when Peter Taylor’s side begin their FIFA under-20 World Cup campaign on Sunday. The goalkeeper, who progressed through the ranks at Shirecliffe, started last weekend’s warm-up fixture against Uruguay which ended in a 3-0 victory for the Young Lions.
England face Iraq before meeting Group E rivals Egypt and Chile.