Nigel Adkins reserved special praise for goalkeeper George Long after Sheffield United tumbled out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday.
Long, who kept his second clean sheet in two games as United drew 0-0 at Fleetwood before going out on penalties, began the season in goal for Adkins’ side before conceding four times on a disastrous opening-day defeat at Gillingham.
Mark Howard has since appeared in all United’s League One games but Adkins, speaking ahead of Saturday’s game at home to Southend, said: “I’m frustrated to go out because I wanted us to progress, and I felt we had enough chances to.
“But credit to Fleetwood; their goalkeeper made some top saves and George made one right at the end, too, to keep it at 0-0.
“It was a windy night so conditions were testing for both goalkeepers, but George’s kicking was good and he came out to punch the ball well, too. It’s difficult when the ball’s swirling around like that but that’s two clean sheets in two games for him now, which is good.
“It’s just a shame we ended up going out.”
“We need competiton for places,” Adkins added.
“Players need to make sure they’re ready to come in when we need them.”