Travis Binnion believes Sheffield United’s “brave” decision-making at youth level has been vindicated after the club’s under-21 squad joined its under-18 counterparts in the end of season play-offs.
Following talks with Nigel Adkins earlier this term, staff charged with producing Bramall Lane’s next generation of home-grown talent released several older players in order to accelerate the development of those impressing further down the system.
Binnion, whose under-18 side assured itself of a top two finish in the northern section of the Professional Development League by beating Hull City 7-1 last weekend, said: “The club made some brave decisions in the New Year. We had a lot of players and decided we needed to be a little bit younger and fresher. We wanted to try and fast track some of the younger scholars and some of the first-year pro’s. Quite a few of the lads are playing twice a week and, although they’re tired at the moment, we really feel that’s benefiting them. These experiences will hopefully stand them in good stead for hopefully being out here, with the first team, in the future.”
Binnion’s side now face Watford for the right to face either Nottingham Forest or Charlton Athletic in the under-18’s final. Charlton are United’s opponents in the under-21 knockouts after John Dungworth oversaw a 2-1 victory over Ipswich Town at Bramall Lane yesterday. Alex O’Hanlon, on trial from Liverpool, and Jamie McDonagh both scored before Diego De Girolamo missed a late penalty.
“It was an excellent result,” Dungworth said. “The performance wasn’t perhaps quite as good as normal but it was all about getting through.”