Kieron Freeman has revealed he “jumped at the chance” of working with Nigel Clough after learning the Sheffield United manager wanted to sign him from Derby County, writes James Shield.
The Wales under-21 international last night arrived at Bramall Lane on a month long loan and could make his debut for the South Yorkshire club during Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Charlton Athletic.
Clough worked with Freeman at the iPro Stadium before being appointed as David Weir’s successor earlier this term and swooped for the youngster after John Brayford was diagnosed with a strained calf muscle ahead of the midweek victory over Peterborough.
“Given the stature of this club, the tradition and the fact that the gaffer is here meant I didn’t have to think twice about joining,” Freeman said. “I know what he (Clough) wants, how he likes to train and what he demands from you as a professional so that just really help me to settle in.
“I’m still learning my trade and you do that by playing games. I didn’t feel as if I was getting enough of those at Derby and so that’s why I wanted to come out again. To play in front of big crowds, learn from the gaffer and some really good lads.”
Freeman, who recently completed two similar spells with League One rivals Notts County, is the second County player recruited by Clough in recent weeks with Ben Davies quickly cementing a place in his first team squad. Brayford, whose loan also expires at the end of the campaign, spent three terms in the east Midlands before transferring to Cardiff City during the close season.
“Ben didn’t have to sell this place to me at all,” Freeman said. “The club does that for itself but he did tell me there’s a really good bunch of lads here and that the atmosphere is great behind the scenes.
“He gave me a lift to training and, while it does help to recognise so many faces, everyone else has made me feel so welcome.”
“I played against United for County,” he added. “County won that match so we’ll forget about that from now on.
“But you could tell then there were some really good players here.”
United enter the meeting with Athletic 10th in the table and having taken maximum points from their last six games.
That run of results, combined with the fifth round victory over Nottingham Forest, meant Clough was this morning named as the recipient of February’s League One Manager of the Month award.
Dave Bassett, chair of the judging panel, said: “Nigel’s men played seven matches last month, so to maintain such consistency in the league and the FA Cup is an impressive feat.”
Don Goodman, expert analyst for sponsors Sky Sports, added: “It’s been an almost faultless display for Sheffield United in February. They’ve turned what was a genuine relegation battle into an outside opportunity of a play-off spot.”