Sheffield United: Reed is preparing for his biggest test yet

Louis Reed is making speedy progress with Sheffield United � copyright :  BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Louis Reed is making speedy progress with Sheffield United � copyright : BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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He has locked horns with Raul Meireles and made his full debut against opponents expected to mount a serious challenge for promotion from League One, writes James Shield.

But now, 24 hours after agreeing a new three year contract at Sheffield United, Louis Reed is preparing for the most daunting experience of what has been a whirlwind month.

“I’ve got my first driving lesson coming up and I’m pretty nervous about it,” the teenage midfielder told The Star last night. “At the moment I’m relying on lifts from Chris Morgan and Chris Basham to get into training but hopefully, pretty soon, I’ll be able to do it for myself.”

Reed might be apprehensive about life behind the wheel but, as recent performances against Fenerbahce and Bristol City demonstrate, when it comes to football he takes everything in his stride. Indeed manager Nigel Clough, who hailed the 17-year-old’s “maturity and composure” at the Redtooth Academy yesterday, explained it was precisely those qualities which persuaded him to name Reed in the starting eleven which entertained Bristol City last weekend.

“I knew I was going to be in the squad,” Reed, speaking ahead of this evening’s Capital One Cup tie against Mansfield Town, said. “But I only found out that I was actually going to be involved right from the off about half an hour before the game.

“The manager revealed who the eleven were in the dressing room and so that’s the first time I knew. There were a few butterflies, I’m not going to lie, but I didn’t really have time to think about it too much because we’d only just come in from the warm-up.”

“It’s been a really frantic few weeks for me,” Reed continued. “Being involved in the friendly against Fenerbahce was brilliant because it meant competing against people like Meireles who everyone knows from the Champions League.

“Then, playing against City and being given this deal. I couldn’t have wished for more and it’s like a dream come true but there’s also plenty of hard work ahead.”

With Clough explaining senior players such as Neill Collins and Michael Doyle, both set to be recalled for the first round tie with Mansfield, had been informed they would not start the fixture against City long before arriving at Bramall Lane, his decision to keep Reed out of the loop appears to have been a deliberate ploy.

“It’s great to be somewhere like United where youngsters coming through are given a chance,” Reed, who became the youngest player to represent the club in a league fixture when he appeared as a substitute during the victory over Rotherham earlier this year,” said. “I’ve been here pretty much since I was eight apart from a spell when I went over to Manchester United.

“But United always told me that I could come back if I wanted and so I did when I was about 11 or 12.

“There’s a really good track record here of bringing people through and the rest of the players, all the staff at the academy and the manager have been brilliant with me.

“I know I’ve got to keep on working really hard and improving. But hopefully I can go on to be involved in a lot more games from now on.”

Born and bred in Penistone, United’s former defender turned coach Morgan has inevitably been a big influence on Reed’s career.

“We went to the same school, Penistone Grammar, and we also played for the same Sunday league team which is Hoyland Common Falcons,” Reed said. “He’s always giving me good advice and I really appreciate that because he’s been there, seen it and done it.

“We play in different positions but there’s still so much I can learn from people like him.

“It’s a big step up to senior football because I’m not the biggest and so I know I’ve got to keep moving the ball quickly or else I’m going to get whacked.

“But what I aim to do now is try and show the manager than I’m worthy of keeping in the team and being involved regularly. And the only way I can do that is by working hard and trying to get better during every training session and game.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1