JOHN Pemberton, Sheffield United’s academy director, has endorsed Micky Adams’ decision to tread carefully when it comes to promoting young talent.
With United reaching the FA Youth Cup final for the first time in the club’s history earlier this month, the clamour for large swathes of Pemberton’s squad to be handed an opportunity at npower Championship level grows with every disappointing result.
Adams praised Harry Mag
uire’s performance after the teenager made his senior debut against Cardiff City last week and included the centre-half in the squad which faced Preston on Saturday. Jordan Slew and Danny Philliskirk also featured with Matty Harriott named on the bench.
Adams acknowledges that a relegation battle is not the “ideal” environment for players looking to establish themselves at Football League level, and Pemberton said: “Different people react in different ways. It’s important to take all factors into consideration.
“It can be tough for someone of that age to come into a team and possibly be viewed as someone who is immediately going to make a difference by the fans. There’s a lot of pressure associated with that.
“I think we’ve got lads here who can handle it. But what you’ve also got to take into account is where they would fit into the first team and how its balance might be affected.”
“The gaffer is very keen to be kept up to date with how these lads are doing.
“He asks for regular reports and has been really supportive and encouraging about what we are trying to do.”
United will discover who they face in the forthcoming showpiece when holders Chelsea and Manchester United lock horns at Old Trafford this evening.
The Londoners travel north enjoying a slender advantage following their semi-final first-leg triumph at Stamford Bridge.
With owner Roman Abramovich watching from the stands, Dermot Drummy’s side raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of Nathaniel Chalobah’s brace before Jesse Lingard reduced the deficit. Bobby Devyne restored Chelsea’s cushion before Jamal Blackman pounced during the closing stages.
Pemberton will attend this evening’s fixture before compiling a dossier of information on the winners for his players.
United, who have beaten Cheltenham, Millwall, Blackpool, Leicester and Aston Villa en route to the final, hope Jordan Slew and Elliott Whitehouse can both take part despite being sent off during the later stages of the tournament.
With relegation looming at senior level, Adams has hinted he is tempted to blood more of Pemberton’s protegees between now and May with members of Mark Smith’s development squad also under consideration.
However, United must strike a balance between their own self-interest and respecting the competition as a whole, especially after complaining at Liverpool’s decision to rest influential players during a visit to Fulham in 2007 contributed to their slide out of the Premier League.
“There are decisions which will have to be taken,” Adams said. “If the boys show they are good enough then they will be given a chance.”
Danny Philliskirk and Erik Tonne, who have both featured at senior level of late, were poised to feature for United’s reserves against Rotherham last night.
Smith’s side kicked off nine points behind totesport.com Central Division leaders Derby County.