James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: Blades deserve some recognition

Stephen Quinn has represented his country since graduating from the Redtooth Academy
Stephen Quinn has represented his country since graduating from the Redtooth Academy
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George Long in goal and a back four comprised of Matthew Lowton, Kyle Walker, Phil Jagielka and Harry Maguire.

Michael Tonge and Stephen Quinn marshalling the midfield alongside Jacob Mellis, Callum McFadzean and Kyle Naughton while Billy Sharp ploughs a lone furrow up front.

You could construct a pretty decent team out of players who have progressed through Bramall Lane’s youth system in recent seasons. A point worth making because, if I don’t do it, no one else in the media probably will.

Why? Because the build-up to this evening’s friendly between England and Chile has proved, beyond doubt, that as far as many national commentators are concerned, football beyond the Premier League does not exist. A baffling state of affairs given 60.66 per cent of people who paid to attend a game in England two weekends ago watched teams below the top tier of its professional pyramid.

Think yours truly is wrong? Rubbish. Because here is the evidence.

Southampton, who boast one home grown talent (Adam Lallana) in Roy Hodgson’s latest squad, have rightly enjoyed plenty of recognition for their efforts. It is a wonderful achievement given they are not one of the country’s glamour names. Read the newspapers and listen to the radio, though, and you’d be forgiven for thinking St Mary’s have furnished Roy with three.

(It seems to have escaped the experts’ attention that Jay Rodriguez learned his trade at Burnley while Ricky Lambert was signed from Bristol Rovers. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story eh?)

United, however, have received precisely zero coverage in recent months despite being able to claim responsibility for producing two members of Hodgson’s 28 strong party.

There will always be a food chain. The best players, unless they possess emotional ties to their employers, gravitate towards bigger clubs. Carry on in the same vein and Rodriguez, for example, will soon be plying his trade at Old Trafford or the Emirates.

But United’s challenge, as well as using this to their advantage, is to ensure the conveyor belt keeps rolling and that they get best value for monies invested in their academy. Which means, at the very least, regaining their Championship status. Tomorrow’s game against Gillingham is part of that process.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1