George Long admits he’s relishing the prospect of playing behind Sheffield United’s new-look defence after making his first appearance of pre-season.
Long wasn’t risked for United’s early warm-up games after picking up a niggling foot injury in training, with boss Chris Wilder reluctant to risk his first-choice goalkeeper ahead of August 6’s League One curtain-raiser at Bolton Wanderers.
But the 22-year-old returned for Saturday’s 3-1 win over Grimsby - playing 90 minutes alongside new boys Jack O’Connell and James Wilson - and admitted afterwards: “It feels good to be back out there, and to get the victory as well.
“I was left out more as a precaution... I’ve trained for the majority of pre-season, but I had to build it up and get myself ready to play.
“But I’m delighted to get a full 90 minutes under my belt.
“It was a good run out and a good test, and it was pleasing to bounce back from defeat the other night [when United lost 2-0 at FC Halifax Town].
“We played some nice football at times and created lots of opportunities for the strikers, so it was a good run out.
“Jack and James were brilliant; they won the majority of headers, kept it tight at the back and limited Grimsby’s opportunities. So I’m looking forward to playing behind those two when the season kicks off.”
Before then, however, United complete their pre-season campaign by hosting Derby County at Bramall Lane on Wednesday, before travelling to Worksop to face non-league neighbours Handsworth Parramore two days later.
“It’ll be a different test against Derby,” Long added.
“We all want to play as many games as we can, and they’ll play a different style to the sides we’ve faced so far; they’ll come and play good football.
“They’re a team of Championship players and they’ll be pushing for promotion as well this season, so it should be a good test.”