SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades ponder signing new keeper

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SHEFFIELD United could be forced to sign a new goalkeeper this summer if Danny Wilson presses ahead with his plan to let Bramall Lane’s rising stars leave the club on loan.

With Steve Simonsen among those culled from United’s first team squad following last month’s play-off final defeat, Mark Howard hopes to be named as Wilson’s established number one when league competition resumes in August.

But United’s efforts to accelerate George Long’s development could be hampered by the lack of an experienced deputy unless reinforcements are drafted-in.

Wilson has made no secret of the fact he rates the teenager highly - once comparing him favourably with England international Joe Hart – but feels only prolonged exposure at senior level will enable him to rapidly progress.

Wilson said: “Allowing our young players to go out on loan is something I’m very keen to do.

“Many of them have done well for the academy or the reserves and need to take that next step to help their education.

“They learn so much from being in an environment where people are playing for points and also, in many cases, their livelihoods.

“You really can’t put a price on it.”

Suspicions that Howard would be allowed to stake a claim for a starting role, irrespective of where Simonsen’s future lay, were aroused when he put pen to paper on a long-term contract earlier this year.

The former Arsenal prospect, who has also represented St Mirren and Aberdeen, made four appearances for Blackpool before arriving in South Yorkshire.

Long, an England under-18 international, has started two matches under Wilson’s tutelage.

Former United defender Connor Brown has joined Oldham Athletic.