Enda Stevens’ inclusion in the latest Republic of Ireland squad is a sign of Sheffield United’s growing status within the game, Chris Wilder has insisted.
Stevens, who received his first international call-up last season, was last night named in the provisional 40 man party for this month’s friendlies against Celtic and France and June 2nd’s meeting with the USA.
With Stevens’ team mate Lee Evans expected to travel to California with Wales, where they will face Mexico in the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, in 18 days time, Wilder said: “I think it shows how far we’ve come in such a short space of time that we’ve got lads being selected by their countries. It shows the level they are playing at, the type of performances they have been putting in on a consistent basis.
“It’s great for them and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s great for us as a football club as well. It shows we’ve been moving forward in the right direction when these lads are getting picked.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding their ownership structure - Kevin McCabe and HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud are both vying to take sole control after their partnership broke down - Wilder led United to 10th place in the Championship last season; 12 months after achieving promotion from League One.
But he recently warned the dispute between the pair threatens to undo the progress United have made in the past two years after “too long in the doldrums.” McCabe and Prince Abdullah are scheduled to discuss their differences, and attempt to plot a way forward, at a summit meeting next weekend. Wilder, who last month warned he could be forced to consider his future if the impasse continues, would prefer to remain in position given his close connections with United. A lifelong supporter and former player, he recently spoke of his pride at seeing members of the club’s squad gain international recognition. David Brooks also hopes to join Evans in the States after recovering from glandular fever.
“It’s something everyone here should be delighted to see,” Wilder said. “It has a positive effect on all the rest of the lads too because it shows what can happen if they stay focused and keep their standards high.”