Sheffield United: No turning back for Slavisa Jokanovic as his team steels itself for Carabao Cup clash against Southampton

Slavisa Jokanovic has signalled he is not prepared to abandon his policy of using the Carabao Cup to blood some of Sheffield United’s most promising youngsters despite drawing Southampton in the competition, arguing the likes of Kacper Lopata and Zak Brunt “deserve” to be involved because “they have helped us get this far.”

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 4:00 am

Jokanovic was handed the perfect excuse to unveil a change of approach when United were paired against Premier League opposition in the third round draw.

But speaking ahead of tonight’s tie with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, Jokanovic told The Star he is happy to give Bramall Lane’s emerging crop of talent another chance to showcase their potential.

“I’m not someone who is bothered about age,” the United manager said. “I prefer to talk about footballers and ability than look at when they were born.

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Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“It doesn’t matter when that is, not at all. If a footballer shows they can bring something to the group, if we believe someone can make us better, then they will be involved. Also, these players have helped us get this far in the tournament. We are here because of what those who have played have done.”

With United making a quartet of loan signings during the closing stages of the transfer window, Jokanovic has more experienced options at his disposal now than when they faced the visitors from Carlise and Derby County in the cup’s earlier rounds. With gaining promotion from the Championship the only target he was set after taking charge in July, the Serb is expected to name a more experienced starting eleven than the ones which faced the visitors from Cumbria and Pride Park in an effort to ensure those on the periphery of his starting eleven maintain their sharpness. But it will still contain a generous helping of up-and-coming talent.

“We want to go through and so, because of that, we will pick what we think are the best options as always,” Jokanovic said. “We always look at what is best for the situation we are in, and we want to go through and win games. That is clear and obvious.”

Sheffield United beat Hull City last time out: Simon Bellis / Sportimage