Whiteman aiming to kick on under new boss Wilder
He made his full debut in front of 18,334 people at Bramall Lane but the eyes of a few hundred were enough to make Ben Whiteman fluff his lines as Sheffield United unveiled their new kit last week.
“I crumbled a bit to be fair, didn’t I?” the 19-year-old midfielder smiled, after being interviewed live on stage at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
“There were a fair few eyes on me and it was more nerve-wracking than playing football! But it was good fun and another learning curve for me.”
Fortunately for Whiteman, United are more interested in what he does in the new kit than what he says about it.
The former Manchester United youngster was one of the few bright sparks of a disappointing campaign that cost former boss Nigel Adkins his job and, after catching the eye in his six appearances last season, Whiteman begins the Chris Wilder era with a real chance to establish himself in midfield.
“I though I did OK when I got in last season,” Whiteman admitted.
“This year, I want to kick on and establish myself a bit more, and start a few games under the new gaffer.
“It’s a challenge for any youngster to get into the first-team set-up, but it’s a challenge I enjoy. I’ve had a taste of the first-team now, and I want to push on and get more games under my belt in senior football.”
Rochdale-born Whiteman and Wilder both took a similar path to professional football, after graduating from United’s academy programme.
“That means we know what the club’s about,” Whiteman added.
“A few of the lads have all come up through the U18 and U21 programme together and there’s a spirit amongst us because of that.
“We know what the fans want, and it’s the same goal that we have... to get back where this club belongs. In the Championship, at least.”
United yesterday missed out on signing Alex Revell, who joined Wilder’s old club Northampton Town instead.
* Did you know: Ben Whiteman volunteered to face the media after United’s defeat at Coventry back in April, which ended their play-off hopes for another season.