Sheffield United: Boss vows to 'defend our club's crest' against familiar faces

George Long, the former Sheffield United goalkeeper, will be a familiar face among the Millwall squad which visits Bramall Lane tonight after moving to The Den during the close season.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 4:00 am

But Slavisa Jokanovic is not expecting the 27-year-old to go easy on the club where he started his professional career if Gary Rowett decides to select him ahead of Bartosz Bialkowski. After all, having worked with Long’s team mates Scott Malone, Shaun Hutchinson and Matt Smith at Fulham, the Serb is not planning to acknowledge them until after the match.

“I have a lot of my ex-players in their squad too,” Jokanovic, the United manager, said. “I have a good collaboration with all of them. But now, all I care about is my players. I must defend the Sheffield United crest. After the game we can be friends. But during the game, they will be trying to win against me just as I will be trying to win against them.”

Long spent seven years at United after graduating from their youth programme before joining Hull City in 2018. Capped by England at youth and under-20 level during his time in South Yorkshire, Long helped City win promotion from League One last term before rejecting their offer of a new contract.

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George Long during his Sheffield United days: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“Everything I observe about people I know, we will try and find some benefit from,” Jokanovic said. “The same, I am sure, will go for them. That is not a problem. There will be no sentiment from me because, after all, they are not going to be sentimental towards me are they.”

Sheffield, England, 16th October 2021. Slavisa Jokanovic manager of Sheffield Utd reacts during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis / Sportimage