ELLIOTT Whitehouse, Sheffield United’s promising young midfielder, is set to be handed an opportunity to establish himself at senior level next season, The Star understands.
Whitehouse, who captained the squad which reached the 2011 FA Youth Cup final, features among a group of academy graduates earmarked for prominent roles in manager Danny Wilson’s re-shaped first team squad.
Striker Joe Ironside is also part of the new wave of talent which, according to Bramall Lane insiders, have impressed the 52-year-old and his staff since their appointment 13 months ago.
Both emerged as driving forces behind United’s march towards the Central League Central Division title last term.
“There are youngsters who people here feel are ready to make the step up now,” a source said last night. “They’ve proven themselves in the reserves and deserve the chance to try and take the next step.
“These players have shown they have the qualities required to do well and they’ve worked hard behind the scenes.
“There’s a group who fit into that category and it’s an issue which has already been discussed.”
Kevin McCabe, United’s owner and plc chairman, recently admitted that assimilating home grown prospects into the squad which reached the League One play-off final was “the only box” which remained “half ticked” following Wilson’s first season at the helm.
The former Northern Ireland international and his assistant Frank Barlow understandably preferred tried and tested options during the closing stages of an eventful year.
But, with the future of key names such as Lee Williamson and Kevin McDonald now shrouded in doubt after their contracts expired, vacancies could exist which the likes of Whitehouse will be asked to fill if experienced colleagues move on.
Although United have vowed to enter the transfer market over the coming weeks, McCabe’s words, coupled with Wilson’s admission that “developing players” will become more important given football’s fragile finances, suggests a decision has been taken to place greater emphasis on a production line which has spawned the likes of Matthew Lowton and Harry Maguire.