JOE Ironside and Callum McFadzean could enjoy prominent roles against Crawley Town this evening after Danny Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, revealed he has “no fears” about their ability to cope with the pressure of a promotion battle, writes James Shield.
Wilson, speaking ahead of the crucial League One encounter with Richie Barker’s side, insisted the teenagers possess the necessary talent and strength of character to help propel his team across the finishing line.
Describing their emergence as “a breath of fresh air,” Wilson said: “The kids are in the team on merit. It’s a simple as that.
“If we think they are the best options to win a particular game then we’ll go with them. Without a shadow of a doubt.
“They’ve definitely got the right mentality to handle the situation we are in.”
Perhaps the greatest sign of Wilson’s faith in the home-grown duo’s talents is that he has called upon their services at key moments in games.
United, fifth in the table following last weekend’s draw with Walsall, were trailing 1-0 when McFadzean replaced Barry Robson at the Banks’s Stadium. Together with fellow substitute Chris Porter, his introduction helped the visitors take charge of a match which, until then, had been spiralling dangerously out of control.
Ironside, also aged 19, came on for the vastly experienced Dave Kitson during the recent stalemate with Carlisle.
Wilson, whose team trail second placed Bournemouth by six points having played three fixtures less than the south coast club, said: “These lads have come on and made an impact. They’ve been brilliant and, like Ports, the challenge now is to keep on doing that.
“At one stage this season we thought we didn’t have any options on the bench to change things. That’s definitely not the case now.”
Despite being beaten only once in 11 outings, United have failed to score on home soil since Kitson’s late strike completed a 3-0 rout of Colchester nearly two months ago.
Wilson admitted he had “been very angry” with his team’s first-half performance against Walsall but said: “The first 45 minutes there, we played as if there were 30 games to go. There isn’t.
“We’ve got three great games left at home now. Three massive games and none more so than this one.
“At the start of the game, at the end of the game, just give everything because, if you do that, more often than not you’ll get your rewards.”