Young keeper gets big hand from United

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SHEFFIELD United goalkeeping coach Paul Crichton has paid tribute to George Long after the youngster was named in the England under-18 squad which travels to Carpi for a friendly with Italy later this month.

With Richard Wright and Mihkel Aksalu both beset by injury, the teenager had become a fixture in Micky Adams’ senior squad until the Estonian returned to the bench against Leeds. Crichton said: “He’s a kid with a big stature and from minute one he wanted to work hard. He’s developing really well.

“The call-up is deserved. He’s been a substitute for the first team when we have been without Richard and Mihkel but George would have done us a job no problem so I’m delighted for him.” Crichton, speaking to United’s official website, added: “George will take this in his stride because of the type of person that he is while (academy coach) Lee (Kendall) and I won’t let him get carried away either.

“Steve Simonsen, Richard and Mihkel all help him too so he should make a good career for himself if he continues working hard.” Together with Jordan Slew, who made his second appearance for England under-19’s during Tuesday’s defeat in Holland, Long is a member of the United squad which has reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals.

They play the second-leg of their last four contest with Aston Villa on Wednesday evening (kick-off 7pm) boasting a slender 1-0 advantage. Supporters planning to attend the match have been advised to arrive early at Bramall Lane with over 1000 tickets already being sold.

“Tickets are available on the night but to avoid queues before the game we would prefer if they were collected or purchased from the box office beforehand,” a spokesman said.