Nigel Clough has challenged Sheffield United’s Louis Reed to continue his development after the 17-year-old made his England U18 debut last week.
Reed, who has made 30 appearances for United this season after establishing himself as a key member of Clough’s first-team squad, is available for Saturday’s crunch South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley after playing twice for England, in two victories over their Switzerland counterparts.
Reed became the youngest player to play league football for United when he made his debut against Rotherham last season, and Clough revealed that England U18 coach Neil Dewsnip was impressed with both Reed’s ability and attitude.
“We went to see Louis play in the first game and he looked comfortable,” Clough said.
“We spoke to Neil and he was delighted with how he settled in, because sometimes that’s the most difficult thing when you get called up for the first time.
“But they also remarked what a smashing lad Louis is on and off the pitch, which is important and a great credit to his mum and dad, and the academy here.
“Ever since he made his debut he’s remained level headed, and it’s important to stay like that and carry on doing the things you’ve been doing which got you in this position in the first place.”
Clough is no stranger to blooding young players, of course, having worked closely with the likes of Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick during his time at Derby County.
“Sometimes players move up to clubs in higher leagues and get lost,” the United boss added.
“It’s important to stay in and around the first team at a young age because it’s very difficult for a young player to start games every week.
“We’re talking about senior players being mentally and physically tired after three games in a week, so Louis is going to be feeling it even more at the age of 17.
“He’s got to be patient and take his chance when it comes, and we’ll see him develop as a player over the next couple of seasons.”
United, who remained fifth in the League One standings despite their 2-1 defeat at home to Crewe on Saturday, will look to strengthen their play-off position this weekend when they face Barnsley at Oakwell.
The Reds won 1-0 at Bramall Lane earlier in the season thanks to Sam Winnall’s goal, but their season took a downturn from their and when ex-Blades boss Danny Wilson was sacked, they were 17th in the table.
Lee Johnson, who played under Clough at Derby County, has since taken them to the brink of the play-offs. The Reds will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to ten games against United - and strengthen their own case for a top-six spot.