SHEFFIELD United manager Micky Adams will watch the South Yorkshire club’s academy attempt to reach their first ever FA Youth Cup Final after identifying home-grown talent as an important part of his plan to bring success back to Bramall Lane.
United kick off tonight’s semi-final second leg against Aston Villa boasting a 1-0 advantage following Joe Ironside’s goal in the Midlands. But their joy has been tempered by confirmation that striker Jordan Slew will miss the game through suspension.
With Adams’ senior squad firmly rooted in the Championship’s relegation zone following Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers, the former Port Vale chief faces a huge rebuilding exercise this summer whichever division United find themselves in for 2011/2012.
As they asre seven points adrift of safety ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Middlesbrough, that seems almost certain to be League One, although coaching staff continue to insist they can beat the drop.
Aware that progress through to the later stages of the competition does not inevitably mean huge swathes of John Pemberton’s side are ready for the first-team stage, Adams has deliberately shied away from making grand statements about their future prospects.
But having told The Star that he has no concerns about promoting through the ranks - “providing they’re good enough” - he said: “I’ve watched every one of their games and I’ll be watching this one too.
“These boys are a team in the true sense of the word. There are no star individuals among them but they’re a strong unit and work very hard for one another.
“They deserve the utmost praise for reaching this stage and now they’ll want to go even further.”
Nevertheless Villa, last season’s beaten finalists, remain confident they can overturn the deficit.
Holders Chelsea face Manchester United in the other tie.