The young Sheffield United players vying to follow in Kyron Gordon's footsteps after boss's challenge

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Sheffield United’s successful youth academy produced another Blades league debutant on Saturday afternoon, when young Kyron Gordon made his first Championship appearance down at The Den.

Defeat to Millwall tempered the occasion somewhat, but Gordon could be proud of his performance in difficult surroundings and he is now keen to build on that taste of first-team action in the coming weeks, with Chris Basham and Charlie Goode both absent.

Boss Paul Heckingbottom was keen to stress that Gordon cannot afford to sit back and think the job is now done, and the same can be said of the Blades’ impressive conveyer belt of players.

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Four academy graduates started at Millwall – Gordon, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Billy Sharp and Iliman Ndiaye – with two more in Daniel Jebbison and teenager Joe Starbuck on the bench.

“We focus on the first-team, for obvious reasons,” Heckingbottom, the Blades’ former U23 boss, said.

“But as a club it’s important we focus on trying to develop the next ones for as and when they’re needed.

“And every now and then we’ll get some through who’ll hopefully stay in the team.”

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Kyron Gordon made his Sheffield United league debut at Millwall: Paul Terry / SportimageKyron Gordon made his Sheffield United league debut at Millwall: Paul Terry / Sportimage
Kyron Gordon made his Sheffield United league debut at Millwall: Paul Terry / Sportimage

Gordon got the nod at right centre-half with Basham injured and Goode suspended, and is expected to keep his place on Friday evening when the Blades face Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane.

“We wanted the right footer, the balance that gives,” Heckingbottom added on Gordon.

“We wanted to be able to keep the same sort of overlap and delivery and forward passes from the right. And Ky has done that in his time at Sheffield United.

“He’s had three cup games and performed well, so he deserved the opportunity.”

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Sydie Peck of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / SportimageSydie Peck of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Sydie Peck of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

As The Star reported today, United’s academy has been included on a list of the most profitable youth systems in European football and after Heckingbottom’s appointment, with the Blades publicly announcing they are taking a different direction with more focus on homegrown players, academy stars such as Femi Seriki, Andre Brooks and Hassan Ayari have been placed on red alert for more opportunities in the Blades first team.

Sydie Peck, the talented former Arsenal youngster who scored for United’s U18s in their victory over Barnsley at the weekend, trained with the Blades senior squad before Millwall, while striker Will Osula recently made his Denmark U19s debut in a 3-2 defeat to Hungary.

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