Sheffield United: Long has got what it takes to be a star

George Long has impressed Nigel Adkins with his mental strength
George Long has impressed Nigel Adkins with his mental strength

Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins last night described George Long as a top-flight goalkeeper in the making after praising the youngster’s mental strength.

Adkins made the claim after insisting the former England under-20 international had proved his courage by recovering from the club’s opening day horror show at Gillingham, where they conceded four times without reply, to wrestle back a place in its starting-eleven.

Mark Howard is competiting with Long for a starting role �2015 Sport Image all rights reserved

Mark Howard is competiting with Long for a starting role �2015 Sport Image all rights reserved

Adkins, a former goalkeeper himself, said: “Coming back from that first match, when we put him in and it didn’t go according to plan, told me a lot about his character. It’s all about decision-making and, when you are young, you aren’t always going to get those decisions right. But as a goalkeeper, you need that grit and resilience to come through. He’s young but he’s got the attributes, as far as I’m concerned to go on to a really high level.”

Long, aged 22, is a key figure in United’s plans to defeat free-scoring Peterborough when the division’s eighth and sixth ranked teams meet at Bramall Lane tomorrow. A graduate of their Steelphalt Academy youth system, he was dropped for United’s second match of the present campaign against Morecambe before being recalled two months ago.

Monday’s victory over Bradford City, which moved United to within a point of their latest opponents, was his 10th consecutive appearance and Adkins said: “You saw against Bradford that George made two super saves from free-kicks. I can see the attributes he’s got. He played in the FA Youth Cup final a few years ago and there has to be a pathway through for the youngsters here. That’s what I want.”

George Long impressed against Bradford City �2015 Sport Image all rights reserved

George Long impressed against Bradford City �2015 Sport Image all rights reserved