Harry’s game to reach 100 per cent target

Birmingham City's Adam Rooney scores whilst under pressure from Sheffield United's Harry Maguire during the FA Cup, Fourth Round match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 28, 2012. See PA story SOCCER Sheff Utd. Photo credit should read: Jon Buckle/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Birmingham City's Adam Rooney scores whilst under pressure from Sheffield United's Harry Maguire during the FA Cup, Fourth Round match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 28, 2012. See PA story SOCCER Sheff Utd. Photo credit should read: Jon Buckle/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Danny Wilson is now backing Harry Maguire to pull off the astonishing feat of playing in every Sheffield United game this season.

The Blades boss feels compelled to concede for the first time that his outstanding teenage centre half could actually accomplish a seemingly impossible target.

Wilson - also still setting his sights on overhauling League One leaders Charlton - emphatically told the Telegraph this week: “Harry can do it. He’s surprised everybody.”

The 18-year-old defender has turned out in all 36 league and cup matches so far. With 19 left, Maguire’s unlikely achievement is very much on.

Wilson’s acute awareness of lack of cover in that position has led to veteran David Weir - at 41 more than double Maguire’s age - training at Bramall Lane with a contract in the offing.

But United’s manager is convinced his teenage mainstay can last the course. “We may have thought about giving Harry a rest before now but that has never come to the fore,” he said.

“He keeps coming up with the answer week-in week-out. His form is fantastic. I have to say he’s been absolutely brilliant.” Wilson feels Maguire and United are reaping the benefits of the advice given to promising youngsters - unlike Jordan Slew, who ignored it in joining Blackburn last summer and now finds his career becalmed.

“Had a bid come in for Harry in January I could almost guarantee it would have been rebuffed,” said Wilson in the absence of pressure from the player.

“Kids move too early at times and suffer a lack of games. They get lost when they move to a big club. You try to protect them, make them aware of how their progress can get hampered.

“Harry has been quite the opposite to Jordan Slew. We said to Jordan it wasn’t the right move but kids can have their heads turned by their agents and sometimes they don’t get the right advice.

“Jordan has got lost in a Premier League development squad. Had he stayed here he could have played 20 odd games up to the January window. I’m sure it was a good move in some ways but from a progression point of view I’m not so sure.”

Ironically, Slew appears to be in the process of being loaned out by Blackburn. It won’t be to United. “He’s a very good player but not the type we are looking for at the moment,” said Wilson.

By contrast, new recruit Will Hoskins can, according to his boss, “hit the ground running” in making an immediate challenge for a place in Saturday’s home game with Wycombe as United play catch-up after last week’s postponement.

They are four points adrift of second-placed neighbours Sheffield Wednesday and 11 behind top team Charlton.

But, with two games in hand, Wilson is adamant: “We’ve still got to believe we’re capable of catching Charlton - and I honestly feel we are.”

He’s also upbeat about Tuesday’s big game at third-placed Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield, saying: “Should we win there it could be a big boost psychologically. Overall, we have to remain calm and not worry about other results.

“Our destiny is in our hands. The lads are enjoying their football, creating chances and converting a high percentage of them.”

Twitter@AlanBiggs1