How Sheffield United's old heads can play vital role in Paul Heckingbottom's youthful revolution
His remit at Sheffield United is heavily reliant on blooding young players into the first team – but Paul Heckingbottom has told his senior stars that they have a vital role to play as well as his Bramall Lane reign takes shape.
Heckingbottom, the club’s former U23 manager, was appointed at Bramall Lane last week after the sacking of Slavisa Jokanović, with a title of “football manager” encompassing all on-field operations at the club.
The former Barnsley and Leeds boss blooded a number of youngsters last season during his spell as interim manager, including Daniel Jebbison and Iliman Ndiaye, and Unitedites can expect to see more players from the club’s promising U23 group integrated under his charge.
But at the same time, experienced heads such as Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick will also play a huge part as Heckingbottom looks to breathe new life into the Blades’ faltering promotion challenge.
“We could pick a young team tomorrow but it probably wouldn’t win,” Heckingbottom, speaking ahead of his side’s trip to Cardiff City this weekend, admitted.
“We want a competitive team, one that goes out there to try and win every game.
“That’s going to evolve over time, you’re not just going to put people in because of their age.
“They set good standards that young players have to meet and it’s a great marker to have. That approach won’t change.”
With six goals and six assists, 35-year-old Sharp is United’s most prolific attacking player this season while McGoldrick, who turned 34 earlier this week, has four assists, including two in his last two games.