Sheffield United: Why are so many youngsters being placed with non-league clubs?

Sheffield United's Rhys Norrington-Davies
Sheffield United's Rhys Norrington-Davies

Sheffield United have extended Rhys Norrington-Davies' loan to Barrow until the end of the season as they attempt to accelerate his development.

The centre-half, who will spend the week on international duty with Wales under-21's, has made five appearances for the Cumbrians, who are 12th in the National League table.

Rhys Norrington-Davies in pre-season action for Sheffield United

Rhys Norrington-Davies in pre-season action for Sheffield United

Norrington-Davies is among a crop of Steelphalt Academy graduates viewed as potential first-team players by Chris Wilder and his staff. His United team mate Tyler Smith has scored six goals in 15 appearances since moving to Holker Street where Ian Evatt, the former Chesterfield defender, is manager.

His presence, combined with Wilder's belief that experiencing non-league football positively influences a youngster's attitude, influenced United's decision to let Norrington-Davies stay. It also explains why Jake Bennett, who has impressed for Bramall Lane's development squad this season, has been placed with Chesterfield. The 22-year-old is scheduled to remain in Derbyshire for the six months and could make his debut for United's neighbours against Halifax Town on Saturday.

Why Wilder likes non-league:

"I don't think it does them any harm whatsoever," Wilder said, explaining his preference for placing the brightest members of United's next generation with teams outside the EFL. "It's proper football, proper man's football if you like, and that teaches you a lot."

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

"On top of that, it also shows you how fortunate you are to get looked after the way you do with a club like us," he added. "We want good players here. But we also want good players with good attitudes and characters."

Away with Wales:

Norrington-Davies is expected to win his latest cap when Robert Page's side travel to Romania on Friday evening, before continuing their Euro 2019 qualification campaign against Switzerland next week. Wales are fifth in Group Eight, eight points behind Mirel Rădoi's side who lead second-placed Bosnia-Herzegovina on goal difference. Switzerland, meanwhile, are fourth.

Speaking earlier this month, Wilder also revealed United's coaching staff are in constant contact with the likes of Barrow to track their progress of their players. 

Sheffield United's Tyler Smith is also on loan at Barrow

Sheffield United's Tyler Smith is also on loan at Barrow

"We ask for reports and Mick (Wadsworth, United's senior youth development coach), is always out and about too," he said. "We're always across everything that's going on with them, which is vitally important."