Sheffield United: 29 days later... Goalkeeper George Long enjoys a short break

George Long pictured in pre-season at Champneys. Pic: Martyn Harrison
George Long pictured in pre-season at Champneys. Pic: Martyn Harrison
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His entire summer break amounted to just 29 days.

While the rest of his Sheffield United team-mates were on the beach, George Long was between the sticks helping Motherwell preserve their Scottish Premier League status.

They did so by beating Rangers 3-0 on May 31 - and on June 27, 21-year-old Long was back with United for pre-season training.

“It was a shorter break than I’m perhaps used to,” Long, speaking at United’s pre-season training camp at Champneys Springs Health Resort in Leicestershire, said.

“But it was a great way to finish the season, helping Motherwell stay up. So I was happy to sacrifice a bit of a break for that.

“My spell up there in Scotland was very worthwhile.

“It was different to anything I’ve ever experienced with United, because we’ve always been pushing for promotion here since I came into the first-team fixture but up there, we were fighting relegation.

“Then, we came up against Rangers, which we always knew was going to be a tough test.

“But to beat them comfortably over the two legs [6-1 on aggregate after 3-1 and 3-0 victories] was a great experience.”

Long enhanced his growing reputation with a string of fine saves against Rangers, and has returned to United for pre-season training hoping to challenge Mark Howard for the No. 1 shirt.

“I felt like I did alright in the play-off games,” Long added.

“I made a few decent saves at Ibrox and, being 3-1 up already, the game back at Motherwell was a little more comfortable.

“Overall, I’m happy with how it went up there.

“A few of the lads down at United are Rangers fans, so they’ve given me a bit of stick for it! But a fair few of the lads watched the game and were pleased how it went.”

Long, who has made 79 starts for United since graduating from the Redtooth Academy, worked with goalkeeping coach Darren Ward, Howard and youngster George Willins in Champneys before United’s players and staff returned to their Shirecliffe training base this week.

“Pre-season has been great,” Sheffield-born Long said.

“It’s been tough training, of course, but that’s exactly what you expect when you come back to pre-season.

“That’s how it is.

“Champneys is a lovely place and Wardy has put us through our paces as usual.

“A new manager [Nigel Adkins] has come in but, from a goalkeeper point of view, it’s a similar situation to last year with Wardy, Mark and George.

“We’ll continue to work hard and we’re looking forward to the start of the season.”