SHEFFIELD United’s senior players must act as role models for the club’s younger players, Danny Wilson has warned.
Several members of Bramall Lane’s academy and development squads have been earmarked for prominent roles in the manager’s plans next season as Wilson looks to plot a course out of League One.
United, who earlier this week captured Swindon Town defender Jean-Francois Lescinel, pledged to give the likes of Jordan Slew, Harry Maguire and Terry Kennedy every opportunity to establish themselves at senior level after unveiling the former Northern Ireland international last month.
Wilson, who has appointed captain Chris Morgan to his backroom staff, said: “We’re going to need a lot of character and mental strength and so the older lads have got to act as role models for those coming through.
“We can talk as much as we want about youth but they’re going to need teachers and scholars around them, people who can set the right example and show them the way to get on.”
Although United have made no attempt to disguise the fact that the harsh financial climate in League One has forced them to reassess their recruitment policy, there is also an acknowledgement behind the scenes that too much talent has been allowed to drain away due to a previous obsession with acquiring expensive luxuries from rival clubs, many of whom have failed miserably in South Yorkshire.
“I think, if we’re being honest, that we’ve let people go in the past who have gone on to actually be better than some of those we’ve brought in,” plc chairman Kevin McCabe said recently. “If you look at people like Evan Horwood (of Hartlepool) and Kevan Hurst then we’ve got to ask ourselves whether they were really given the opportunities they deserved?
“The answer, most people would probably agree looking back, is ‘no’.
“I’m not talking about whether or not they would have established themselves here. That would have been down to them and the managers they played under.
“What I mean is were they actually given a proper chance to do that?”
Horwood is set to lock horns with United in the Carling Cup next season with their first-round tie at Victoria Park now confirmed for Tuesday August 8. (kick-off 7.30pm).
Wilson believes that Morgan’s presence in the technical area will inspire rather than inhibit the likes of Kennedy and Maguire.
“They’ll look at someone like Chris and see what is possible through hard work and dedication,” he said. “He’s someone that the youngsters here should, indeed do, look up too and quite rightly so.”