David Weir has insisted that being exposed to first team football during pre-season will accelerate the development of Sheffield United’s latest academy graduates, writes James Shield.
The former Scotland international, whose side begin their latest League One campaign when Notts County visit Bramall Lane on Friday, has proven willing to integrate up-and-coming talent with tried and tested names since his appointment last month.
Jahmal Smith, who signed a new contract earlier this summer, has been arguably the biggest beneficiary of Weir’s selection policy after joining Elliott Whitehouse, Callum McFadzean and Joe Ironside at United’s recent training camp in Scotland while Jordan Hodder’s profile is also on the rise.
Weir, who included all five in the team which drew 1-1 with York City last weekend, said: “They’ll have taken so much from being involved and we as a staff and as a club have benefited from their involvement. It’s been a really worthwhile and valuable exercise.
“It’s part of their education and the learning process. They find out about the senior players while we also learn more about them as footballers and individuals.”
Precious little has changed at Bootham Crescent since Keith Houchen’s last minute penalty dumped Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 1984.
Nevertheless, a ground untouched by the rampant modernisation which has swept through the upper echelons of the game, will have seemed like Wembley for those youngsters promoted into Weir’s squad.
Otis Khan and Connor Dimaio both enjoyed extended run-outs as McFadzean’s goal ensured United’s preparations for County’s visit ended on an encouraging note.
Smith enjoyed his fifth outings of a summer fixture programme which has spawned five victories and three draws.
“It’s been a very productive time in lots of different ways,” Weir said. “This is only one of them.”