Sheffield United: Weir set for tough call

Sheffield United's Mark Howard and George Long read the final edition of The Green 'Un � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United's Mark Howard and George Long read the final edition of The Green 'Un � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

David Weir is wrestling with the biggest dilemma of his fledgling managerial career after admitting he is unsure whether George Long or Mark Howard will start in goal for Sheffield United next season, writes James Shield.

With only two friendlies remaining before Notts County visit Bramall Lane for the opening match of the new League One season, the duo remain locked in a battle for a first team jersey ahead of August 2nd’s meeting with Chris Kiwomya’s side.

Weir, who took charge of the South Yorkshire club six weeks ago, told The Star: “I’ve got a tough decision to make. A very tough one in fact but that’s the nature of the job.

“And I’m glad I’ve a decision to make because that just goes to underline that neither of them has put a foot wrong so far. They’ve both looked very assured and impressive.

“So, when they get their opportunities, from their perspective they’ve got to maintain that form. Then, we’ll make the choice at the right time.

“It’s good to know that we’ve got two ‘keepers who can inspire than kind of confidence.”

Howard, who featured in all of United opening four warm-up fixtures, began last term as the team’s undisputed number one before relinquishing that mantle after sustaining a serious muscle injury.

Long, a member of the England squad which travelled to the recent FIFA under-20 World Cup, seized his chance in spectacular fashion and returned to action for the first time since returning from Turkey at Mansfield Town on Saturday.

United entertain Atromitos FC on Friday before completing their preparations less than 24 hours later with a match against York City.

Howard completed Monday’s victory over Alfreton Town which, despite being designated an under-21 fixture, saw the likes of Lyle Taylor, Conor Coady, Tony McMahon and Danny Higginbotham all take part.

Weir said: “We’ll mix things up team-wise again because it’s a busy schedule. But that’s exactly what we wanted.

“We’ll be fielding strong line-ups in both of those matches. They’re both important games.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1