TEENAGE sensation Jordan Slew can play at the highest level - as long as he stays level-headed, believes Sheffield United defender Matthew Lowton.
Thrust into the first team spotlight towards the end of the 2010/11 Championship season, Slew has wasted no time in establishing himself as a new hero on the terraces.
The 18-year-old striker notched two goals in five senior outings and is expected to feature prominently next year as the Blades seek to climb out of the third tier at the first time of asking.
The emergence of youngsters Slew, Harry Maguire, George Long and Matt Harriot have captured the imagination of the fans, with more than 6,000 travelling to watch the Under-18s team at Old Trafford on Monday in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final.
Lowton, a fellow graduate of the club’s Shirecliffe youth system, is tipping Slew to reach the top. He thinks the pacy forward has a glittering career ahead of him.
He told The Star: “Jordan is a massive talent. He has broken into the first team, scored goals and done really well.
“If he keeps his feet on the ground and listens to people around him, then he has got a great chance of going really far in the game.”
Lowton feels Slew benefited from playing alongside Darius Henderson in the latter stages of the campaign.
“They complemented each other well,” he said. “Darius is the big, strong targetman and Jordan is the one who can get in behind defences with his pace.
“Darius has played a lot of games and played in the Premier League so he has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. He knows everything that is required to be a top centre forward.
“Jordan can learn a lot from someone like Darius and hopefully he will listen and take it on board.”
Henderson, who is expected to be shipped out this summer to reduce the club’s wage bill, has also recently given a glowing critique of Slew’s credentials. He said he was impressed by his attitude and that he has the qualities to be a permanent fixture of the first team squad.
“He doesn’t seem to have any fear whatsoever,” said Henderson. “In fact, in that regard he reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger.”
The vultures are circling around Bramall Lane and a series of top flight clubs are believed to be tracking United’s young talent.
Academy director John Pemberton, who remains in the frame for the vacant managerial post, has admitted he has been inundated by phone calls from agents about members of his young squad.
He hopes the promising group of players will resist the temptation of going elsewhere and continue earning their stripes at United. Pemberton has claimed a big money transfer could harm their development in the long term.
He said: “What’s better for them [the kids] is to play 30 or 40 games here for Sheffield United before they start thinking about any of that.”
To arrest United’s slide, academy boss Pemberton says the first team must embrace the passing philosophy of his young proteeges.
“If you look at all the teams who are achieving things now, they’ve all got one thing in common,” he said. “They play football which tells me that’s the right way.”