DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, last night reassured John Cofie that he remains a key member of his squad.
Cofie, a close season capture from Manchester United, is hoping for his first start since September 18 when Portsmouth visit South Yorkshire for Monday’s televised League One fixture at Bramall Lane.
The 19-year-old’s failure to command a regular place in Wilson’s first choice eleven has prompted speculation among sections of United’s support that Sir Alex Ferguson could be tempted to terminate his loan.
But Wilson appeared to quash those fears by insisting Cofie has been a victim of circumstance, saying: “We’re asking John to play a role different to the one he’s accustomed to.
“When he starts to understand that role even more he’ll be an even bigger asset. He’s a great talent and, because of that, he’ll learn the game even more.”
With Dave Kitson expected to spearhead United’s attack when his former club travel north next week, Cofie could again be deployed out wide rather than his preferred position of centre-forward.
Nick Blackman scored his seventh of the campaign against Walsall four days ago as United preserved their unbeaten record in the competition this term.
Wilson added: “When you look at lads like John, Harry Maguire and George Long it’s easy to forget how young they are.”
Meanwhile, Wilson has admitted Neill Collins, who yesterday agreed a contract extension with United, could “throttle me” after starting United’s last two matches on the bench.
Sources have confirmed the defender has put pen to paper on fresh terms although the exact details have yet to be announced.
“If he got his hands on me I’m sure he’d love to do that,” Wilson joked. “But I’ll make sure he won’t.”