SOME magical performances from Stephen Quinn, Neill Collins’ change of fortune and Chris Porter’s emergence as a fox in the box have been the most captivating stories of the season so far at Bramall Lane.
But Danny Wilson, whose ability to win over previously sceptical supporters has also captured the imagination, last night predicted those chronicling Sheffield United’s progress this term will soon have another inspiring tale to write.
Despite making a faltering start to his career in South Yorkshire, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing put on a display during Saturday’s demolition of Bury that suggests the on-loan winger is on the verge of fulfilling the potential which recently persuaded Wolverhampton Wanderers to offer him a new contact.
“Nathaniel has got the ability to be a real game-changer at this level,” Wilson insisted after watching the 19-year-old score one and create another his team’s four goals against Richie Barker’s side. “He’s someone who is capable of being a real threat.
“The more he plays with us the better he’s going to get just through his understanding of what we want from him.”
Mendez-Laing, whose preciousness on the pitch contrasts starkly with his boyish demeanour off it, is capable of thrilling and frustrating in equal measure.
Blessed with raw power and pace, he provided a tantalising glimpse of the talent he possesses during an encouraging debut against Hartlepool before briefly sliding out of the first-team picture.
“We’ve got a free week now and so we can put Nathaniel through a really rigorous fitness programme,” said Wilson. “We think that’s something he’ll benefit from.
With opportunities in short supply at Molineux, Mendez-Laing was dispatched to Peterborough last season where he helped Darren Ferguson’s side clinch promotion to the Championship.
That experience is likely to prove crucial as United also look to plot a course out of League One following a 2010/11 campaign which Quinn, described by Barker as “the best player in the division,” later admitted was “a shambles”.
“We’ve had a better start than Peterborough had,” Mendez-Laing said after United’s success at the weekend took their record under Wilson to P6 W5 L0.
“It’s important to get off to a good start and we’ve done that.”
DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, has dismissed suggestions that Stephen Quinn could still be destined for the exit door at Bramall Lane after being courted by Blackpool during the transfer window.
Quinn, whose continued presence in South Yorkshire “delighted” Wilson after Saturday’s demolition of Bury, has been linked in some quarters with a return to the Championship during the emergency loan window.
But, describing Blackpool’s £250,000 bid as “embarrassing” and “pathetic,” Wilson rubbished those claims when they were put to him following the 4-0 rout of Richie Barker’s side.
“I don’t fear that at all and I can’t understand for the life of me why someone might think that’s going to be the case,” he said.
“What would be the benefit of us doing that? I’ll tell you what: None.
“It’s not even an issue for anyone here at all”
But the former Northern Ireland international, who took charge following United’s relegation from the Championship last term, conceded that should Quinn continue to impress then he is likely to be the subject of yet more unwanted attention when the transfer window re-opens next year.
“We might find ourselves in the same position again come January but that’s something to think about then,” said Wilson.