Sheffield United considering transfer options over starlet with "big future" after England recognition

Sheffield United youngster impressing out on loan, giving Blades January transfer conundrum

Sheffield United are keeping their options open over the future of midfielder Oliver Arblaster in January, with the starlet continuing to impress on loan at Port Vale in League One. The United academy product, still only 19 years old, has made 20 appearances for Vale so far this season, although he will miss this weekend's clash with Shrewsbury after being sent off in his last game.

Arblaster started and played 90 minutes for England's Elite League squad - formerly the U20s - as they beat Germany 3-2 in Regensburg on Monday night, finishing the game with 10 men but sealing victory through a stoppage-time winner. It was the latest step for a youngster highly-rated by United's coaching staff, who was sent out to play men's football in the summer to further accelerate his development.

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United have the option to recall Arblaster in January, with boss Paul Heckingbottom and his staff keeping a close eye on his progress in Staffordshire, but they will be mindful of bringing him back to Bramall Lane just to play a bit-part role rather than play consistent football. The Blades could also elect to place one of their prized assets at a club further up the football pyramid, to stretch and test him further.

"He's doing really well," Heckingbottom said of the teenager. "It was the right thing to do, to send him out, for his development, but he would have got minutes here. Maybe not as many. It would have also helped us because he wouldn't have counted as one of the 25-man squad, because he's under-age, but I feel it would have been a really selfish decision, to keep him in.

"People know what we think of him, we think he has a real chance and potentially a real big future here. So it was important, in our eyes, that we got him out, playing games as often as possible. He's done that and he's performing well. It was 100 per cent the right thing. What we do in January or at the end of the season, we'll have to wait and see."

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For his part Vale boss Andy Crosby - a former United assistant manager under Nigel Adkins - is philosohical about the possibility of losing Arbaster mid-season, with Spurs' Alfie Devine also impressing on loan at Vale Park. "If you're taking an U20 or U21 international on loan, they're giving them to you to develop and grow, and they want a better player back," Crosby said. "We want them to do well while they're here, of course, you have to take the benefits and weaknesses within that. If players play well, other clubs will be looking at them."

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