Chris Wilder has wished Sheffield United’s under-18’s good luck ahead of tonight’s Professional Development League Two play-off final at Bramall Lane.
Derek Geary’s side enter their meeting with Coventry City (kick-off 7pm) hoping to win their second title of the season after finishing first in the competition’s Northern Division.
Wilder, the club’s first team manager, said: “The boys deserve tremendous credit for how they’ve done this year and hopefully they go out there and finish things off in style. Being involved in occasions like this is wonderful experience for them and can only help their progress. Hopefully they get what they want by coming out on top.”
United’s academy boasts an enviable reputation for producing home-grown talent with internationals such as Phil Jagielka, Kyle Walker and Stephen Quinn among its most high-profile graduates. The parallels between results at under-18 and first team level, at least since Wilder’s appointment, are uncanny with both finishing 14 points clear of their nearest rivals in the table after ending the campaign with long unbeaten runs.
“Football is a tough business,” Wilder said. “So it’s good to see the boys doing what they’re doing as they look to push themselves through.”
Although Wilder and his coaching staff are busy preparing for the new Championship season - Ched Evans returned to the club from Chesterfield 48 hours ago - they will be keeping a close eye on events this evening. Regan Slater and Jordan Hallam, who are both expected to feature in Geary’s squad, made their senior debuts during United’s Checkatrade Trophy tie at Grimsby Town six months ago.
“We’ll always push players through who can flourish,” Wilder, who led United to the League One title, said. “That’s what we’ll always try and do.”