Regan Slater and Rhys Norrington-Davies could both feature in the Sheffield United squad which faces Preston North End in the FA Cup this weekend after being told they will not be leaving Bramall Lane during the transfer window.
Instead, manager Chris Wilder, who named both in his matchday 18 for last month’s third round tie against Ipswich Town, plans to keep them at the club after deciding that training with United’s senior players is more beneficial at this stage of their careers.
The plan mirrors the one Wilder and his coaching staff devised for David Brooks who, after spending a season working with the likes of Billy Sharp and Mark Duffy, made rapid progress before being diagnosed with glandular fever earlier this year.
“I think it’s important, like with David Brooks last year, that this year they experience the attitude and environment of training with the first team,” Wilder explained.
“Obviously at Championship level and the position we’re in.
“I think they’ll learn more at the moment, from the habit our first team players have got, than possibly by playing 15 games.
“We’ll look at it in the summer, we’ll see how they kick on.
“Brooksy is the obvious example, he came back and really kicked on.”
Brooks, who missed Saturday’s visit to Norwich City, has made 21 appearances for United since August and won his first Wales caps, against France and Panama, two months ago.
Like Norrington-Davies and Slater, who featured as a second-half substitute at Portman Road, he is a graduate of the club’s Steelphalt Academy youth programme.
Although Wilder came under pressure to loan Brooks out last season, he said: “Having me barking in his ear every five minutes, that might have helped him.
“Joking aside, people talk about ‘what have you done with him?’
“But the environment that has been created, and the players with what they’re about, drives these younger players on to another level.
“Being with players who have got habits, that’s a big thing for players.”