DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, predicted Elliott Whitehouse, Erik Tonne and Danny Philliskirk could feature prominently next term as he looks to blood Bramall Lane’s next generation of talent.
Despite planning a radical overhaul of his squad ahead of the new League One campaign, Wilson confirmed opportunities will be created for some of Shirecliffe’s most promising graduates to stake a claim for a first-team place.
“Last time around, for various reasons, it was difficult to bring some of these lads through,” he said.
“It was difficult for them to be given a chance but, with one of two people leaving, that shouldn’t be the case now.
“There are a few lads we’re looking very closely at and have been impressed by.
“They’re all at different stages of their development but we believe they have the ability to try to make the step up.”
United’s failure to regain Championship status, combined with the governing body’s decision to implement UEFA’s Financial Fair Play framework, means Wilson could be forced to operate on a reduced budget next term.
However, sources at the South Yorkshire club last night insisted moves to rely more heavily on home-grown players are not a knee-jerk response to football’s bleak economic landscape.
Whitehouse and his contemporary, Joe Ironside, were both considered for senior roles earlier this year only to see their hopes thwarted by the ferocity of the promotion race.
Whitehouse’s credentials were enhanced when he captained United towards the 2011 FA Youth Cup Final.
Tonne recently completed a frustrating loan spell at York City but scored two goals in four appearances for Wilson’s squad last season.
With Philliskirk, who arrived from Chelsea in 2011, also hoping to establish himself in Wilson’s thoughts, the former Northern Ireland international said: “Elliott has been exceptional in some of the reserve games I’ve watched him in and Erik has done very well too.
“Danny Philliskirk will be absolutely chomping at the bit too. He’ll be really wanting to push on and show his ability.”
Kevin McCabe, United’s owner and plc chairman, described the assimilation of home-grown youngsters as “the only box that’s been left half ticked” under Wilson’s tutelage before May’s play-off final defeat by Huddersfield Town at Wembley.
At least two are expected to join in the party which will establish a warm-weather training camp on the island of Malta next month.
Wilson’s charges are scheduled to play two games against local opposition after talks with an Italian team - believed to be part of the Macron kit suppliers stable - fell through.