Sheffield United: The real reason youngsters have been allowed to depart on loan

Sheffield United’s decision to allow two of their young players to leave Bramall Lane on loan is being interpreted as a sign the injury crisis which has threatened to derail the club’s season is beginning to ease.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 12:51 pm

Read More

Read More
Sheffield United: Coaching staff make big gesture ahead of final promotion push

But it would be more accurate to describe the departures of Femi Seriki and Jean Belehouan as a balancing act, as Paul Heckingbottom looks to accelerate their development without leaving his first team squad exposed during the remainder of the Championship season.

Although the transfer window system prohibits the defenders from completing moves within the English Football League, teams below the fourth tier of the pyramid are not bound by the same rules.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

During an interview with The Star, Heckingbottom recently explained how United’s coaching staff are attempting to exploit this quirk as their senior squad chases an immediate return to the top-flight after being relegated last term.

Using Kacper Lopata, a Poland under-20 international, to illustrate his point, Heckingbottom said: “We sent him to Southend on loan recently, as everyone knows, before bringing him back here. We could have placed him with someone from League One or League Two but, the thing is, if we’d have done that we wouldn’t have been able to recall him if we’d needed - which we did.”

“Southend was brilliant for him,” Heckingbottom added. “He was playing regularly at a high standard and the people down there work really well with our players. We trust them.

“There was also a benefit to us, putting Kacper in the National League, as we’ve seen.”

Keinan Davis of Nottingham Forest fouls Femi Seriki of Sheffield United: Darren Staples / Sportimage

Seriki spent the beginning of the campaign with Beerchot, the Belgian arm of the United World operation, before rejoining Heckingbottom’s side before Christmas; starting the draw with Nottingham Forest and then featuring on the bench against Middlesbrough and Coventry City.

He made his debut for Boston during their win over York City on Tuesday night. Belehouan has linked-up with their National League North rivals Farsley Celtic. The two clubs are scheduled to face each other in May.

“It’s definitely something we will continue doing,” said Heckingbottom, who has guided United to fifth in the table. “It makes sense.”

Femi Seriki, Kyron Gordon, Jordan Amissah and Jean Belehouan of Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, favours sending youngsters into the National League: Darren Staples / Sportimage