Seven months ago, Che Adams used a Capital One Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur to launch his footballing career, writes James Shield.
Tonight, when Sheffield United face Morecambe in the first round of this season’s tournament, he hopes to again showcase the talents which put the fear of God into Mauricio Pochettino’s team and captured Bramall Lane’s imagination.
“It’s a competition that’s obviously pretty special for me,” Adams said. “It’s one I’ve got a lot of good memories from.
“I had a taste of it last year but hopefully this season I can make an impact again.”
Adams’s transfer from non-league Ilkeston 11 weeks before Spurs’ visit was barely mentioned outside South Yorkshire media circles. Two goals in as many minutes during a delicately poised second-leg - although the Londoners later advanced when Christian Eriksen completed a brace of his own - saw him thrust in front of the nation’s press during the subsequent post-match inquest.
“It was a crazy night. You always see them people on the TV and stuff like so it felt funny to score against them,” Adams admitted before this evening’s trip to the Globe Arena.
“I think we deserved to win to be honest. We were the better team that showed up and showed more passion at the end. It was a massive experience playing against some of those lads, it was incredible really. And it taught me a lot.”
Adams, who made his professional debut against Southampton in an earlier round, has come a long way since that polite but monosyllabic performance in front of the television cameras. A series of explosive displays during United’s summer friendly schedule illustrated his new found strength, sharper mind and maturity. Likewise the decision, following Nigel Adkins’ recent appointment as manager, to express a positional preference. Albeit with a diplomatic caveat.
“The gaffer’s playing me up front. I think that’s where I like best to be fair because I want to get more goals.
“I’ll play anywhere though. Where ever the gaffer puts me, I’ll try my hardest and do my best for the team.”
Adams has no truck with claims that United’s promotion prospects would be enhanced by an early exit from the competition after contesting an energy-sapping 63 fixtures last term. Rather, he believes, fellow youngsters Diego De Girolamo, Otis Khan and Connor Dimaio should, is picked, view tonight’s match as an opportunity to follow his lead and further their own reputations.
“The lads work hard, they’re a good bunch and I think we can get through,” Adams said.
“Hopefully we can get there, to the semi-finals, again and hopefully get through this time.
“We’ve got a good enough team to be in the Championship and hopefully this season we can go up. The belief is massive in the changing room. We believe we can go and do better things.”
Whether or not Adams gets his wish - and features against Jim Bentley’s side - depends upon the selection plan Adkins drafted before last weekend’s visit to Gillingham. Adkins, who bolstered United’s defensive options by completing the loan transfer of David Edgar yesterday, insisted the sight of his team losing 4-0 at Priestfield Stadium will not prompt a hasty rewrite.
“We had a conversation, an honest conversation, about what happened,” Adkins, referring to events in Kent, said. “And that’s important because there are lessons to learn.
“But what is also important, after that’s taken place, is then that we draw a line under everything and move on.
“Yes, it goes without saying that it wasn’t what we wanted. And I hurt as much as anyone after a defeat. But what’s most important now is what happens next. How we move forward. It’s not about the past.”
“We told most of the lads who would be playing in these two games before the first one, at Gillingham,” Adkins added. “We’ll never be too low after a defeat or high after a win.”