David Weir, the Sheffield United manager, says Bramall Lane should be proud of its contribution towards England’s bid to reach next year’s World Cup finals, writes James Shield.
Three members of the back four which secured a goalless draw in Ukraine on Tuesday evening have benefited from spells at the South Yorkshire club, with Phil Jagielka and Kyle Walker both progressing through its youth system before establishing themselves at international level.
Gary Cahill, their England colleague, used a loan spell with United to reignite his career after failing to consolidate a first team place at Aston Villa and Weir said: “This club has always enjoyed an excellent reputation for bringing players through as we saw with England the other night.
“It’s absolutely vital as well because the more people with Sheffield connections involved with us at first team level the better. Supporters identify with that and feed off it.”
England remained on course to book their place in Brazil when Walker, Cahill and Jagielka combined to keep Mykhaylo Fomenko’s forwards at bay during a tense Group H encounter at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium.
“We’ve got some great people working at our academy and that’s absolutely crucial too,” Weir said. “This club has invested a lot of time and effort into its academy and that continues to be the case.
“Results like that don’t just happen overnight.”
George Long hopes to follow in the footsteps of Walker and Jagielka after being selected by the under-21’s for their recent European round of European Championship qualifiers. The goalkeeper, together with the Republic of Ireland’s Sean McGinty, reported for duty at United’s training complex yesterday and are both available for selection at Carlisle this weekend.
“They’ve been away with their under-21’s and have come back to us fine,” Weir confirmed. “There aren’t any problems with either of them so that’s good news for us.
“It’s also good for us that they are so highly regarded by their countries. It goes to show, especially in George’s case because he started out here, the calibre of player this club can produce.”