SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson has challenged the club’s youngsters to seize the opportunity presented by injuries to key players and establish themselves as first-team regulars at Bramall Lane.
But Wilson, who yesterday revealed defender Neill Collins and striker Shaun Miller are set for lengthy absences, also backed experienced professionals such as Richard Cresswell to help steer his squad through its latest selection crisis.
Goalkeeper George Long and fellow teenager Harry Maguire have both been handed prominent roles under Wilson’s stewardship since graduating from United’s Shirecliffe youth academy.
Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s fixture with bottom club Hartlepool, he said: “One man’s misfortune is another’s gain. Looking what Harry and George have done should give the others coming through a great incentive.
“We’re not bothered about age. And we’ve no fear about putting in any of those coming through because we know all about their characters.”
Diego De Girolamo, Callum McFadzean, Terry Kennedy and Joe Ironside are among those hoping to profit from news that Collins (cheekbone) and Miller (knee) could spend two and nine months on the treatment table respectively.
“Don’t rule out the likes of Cressy either,” Wilson added. “It shows the value of having someone like him here because we know what he can give. Be it him or young Diego, we’ve got no concerns about pitching anyone in because we know they are made of the right stuff.”
Wilson, who admitted Miller has taken confirmation he damaged a cruciate ligament during Wednesday’s victory over Scunthorpe “pretty badly”, told his pre-match press conference that Collins is recovering from surgery to repair the triple fracture he sustained later in the same contest.
The former Northern Ireland international acknowledged recent developments could alter his plans for next month’s transfer window, given the League One leader’s requirement to comply with new financial legislation such as Salary Cost Management Protocol.
“We’ll have to shift some (players) out but it’s very difficult to see who we can afford to lose even on loan,” Wilson said. “In the past, if you went a bit over budget then it could get soaked up but that’s impossible now unless you want to get hit with a transfer embargo.”