SHEFFIELD UNITED: Boy George matures into a man

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DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, has revealed the secrets behind George Long’s success.

With fellow goalkeeper Mark Howard ruled out for up to 10 weeks through injury, the teenager is poised to make only the eighth start of his senior career when Wilson’s side visit Preston North End tomorrow.

Describing the former England youth international as “a really fine prospect”, Wilson admitted he has been mightily impressed by the improvements in Long’s game.

“George looks like a man now,” Wilson told The Star.

“He looks a real unit between the sticks.

“In football you’ve got to mature fast and that’s what George has done. It’s like condensing a year of another youngster’s development into a month.”

Wilson, who yesterday acknowledged Long’s progress had not lessened the need for an experienced reinforcement to be recruited, also cited the presence of coach Darren Ward as a factor behind the 18-year-old’s transformation.

“Darren must take a lot of the credit,” Wilson added. “The experience of working with him must be wonderful for George.”

Meanwhile, Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson has refused to rule out the possibility of Paul Gallagher returning to South Yorkshire on loan.

The severity of Howard’s muscle problem forced United to shelve plans to prolong Gallagher’s stay at Bramall Lane. Pearson said: “United were unable to come up with the finances to extend the loan ...there may be scope for him to go out again.”

n Blades: P40/41