New Sheffield United coach Graham Coughlan gearing up for Wednesday reunion after "whirlwind" start to life at Bramall Lane

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Graham Coughlan is bracing himself for a return to Sheffield Wednesday on Friday, after a whirlwind first week working with Sheffield United's U23s.

The former defender played over 50 times for the Owls during his long playing career, and joined the Blades earlier this week alongside Darren Currie after U23s boss Paul Heckingbottom was promoted to interim senior manager following Chris Wilder's departure.

The first game in charge for Coughlan and Currie - the nephew of Blades legend Tony - was a successful one, as United hammered QPR 4-0 at Bramall Lane on Monday to remain top of their Professional Development League table, ahead of Friday afternoon's short trip across the city to face Wednesday.

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"It's great to come on board," Coughlan, who had spells in charge of Bristol Rovers and Mansfield Town after hanging up his boots, said.

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"They're in a healthy place and the mindset is really good. I really enjoyed the first couple of days with them, the work they take on board and how they apply themselves. And you saw in the QPR game, their attitude and workrate and commitment was different class. We said that gives them a real chance in their career, so we were really pleased with them.

"They've been working hard, they're well-drilled and the education they're receiving is top drawer, so we didn't want to change too much. I'm a big one for standards and disciplined, hard-working players and we have them in abundance here. They've given themselves a real opportunity to go and forge a career for themselves."

Coughlan left Mansfield in October last year - to be replaced by former Blades boss Nigel Clough - after the Stags went 12 games without victory at the start of the season.

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Graham Coughlan is on the coaching staff at Sheffield United: Alex Davidson/GettyGraham Coughlan is on the coaching staff at Sheffield United: Alex Davidson/Getty
Graham Coughlan is on the coaching staff at Sheffield United: Alex Davidson/Getty

"In my last few games I didn't win, hence why you get your P45 in the modern game," the Irishman added.

"So if they keep winning, maybe we stay in a job! We're trying to get the message across that if they were to go out on loan or seeking professional football, just to maintain their standards and myself and Darren can possibly open one or two doors for them.

"The big thing since I walked through the door was the knowledge, the expertise and the experience amongst the staff. I said to the players on Sunday, with that kicking around the building, make sure they tap into it and absorb as much as they can.

"The one point that possibly we don't see is that they go after each other, when they don't do things right. They make sure standards are maintained and keep pushing themselves, trying to be better tomorrow than they were today. And if they keep driving each other, they'll give themselves a chance."

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United will look to continue their recent good form in the mini derby on Friday, which is scheduled to kick off at 2pm.

"I don't know what day of the week it is, it's been a whirlwind!" Coughlan smiled.

"I'll have to gather my thoughts before I start thinking of anything else, but the lads will have a debrief and we'll build towards our next game at Wednesday."

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