Nigel Adkins has insisted Sheffield United midfielder Dean Hammond helped Morgan Schneiderlin become a £27m footballer.
Adkins, the League One club’s manager, made the claim ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup tie against Manchester United after revealing he is confident the 32-year-old will stay at Bramall Lane when his loan from Leicester City expires.
Hammond and Schneiderlin, who completed his multi-million pound move to Louis van Gaal’s side last summer, were both members of the Southampton team Adkins guided into the Premier League four seasons ago.
Speaking as they prepare to go head to head during the third round tie, Adkins said: “Dean Hammond helped Morgan Schneiderlin become the player he is. Dean is the ultimate professional, one of the best I’ve ever seen and all the graft and the hard work and the way he does things rubs off on other people.
“We had him and Morgan Schneiderlin down there and Morgan learned a lot about how to be a professional by working alongside and seeing Dean Hammond every single day and Morgan’s undoubted ability is now shining through gloriously.”
Adkins, who was this morning named League One’s Manager of the Month for December, also worked with Manchester United defender Luke Shaw at St Mary’s.
“I gave Luke his debut in the Premier League,” he said. “We had him training with us from an early age and who was the role model? Dean Hammond was the role model. James-Ward Prowse at Southampton. Who was the role model? Dean was. He has been the role model for so many young players in respect of standards that are required.
“Dean Hammond would sit here and say ‘I’m maybe not the best player’ but he does all the things that are required at the top level. He’s a top, top class professional and that rubs off on everybody else.
“He’s a player with the not the biggest talent in the world but the attitude to strive to be better. He’s played in the Premier League, he’s captained teams and got promotions on a regular basis.
“He helped Morgan Schneiderlin develop. He will do all the horrible things required to help the flair players produce and that’s what you need in the harmony of the team.”
Hammond is due to return to the KP Stadium this month but has already stated his desire to stay put.
“Conversations are going on,” Adkins said. “In private, as should always be the case, but we are confident.”
Adkins, meanwhile, has dedicated his Manager of the Month award to United’s players after beating Gillingham’s Justin Edinburgh, Lee Johnson of Barnsley and Walsall’s Sean O’Driscoll to the trophy.
“It’s great credit to the players,” he said. “It’s about the whole group working together and working extremely hard.
“We’ve got some good clean sheets and some good results. But it’s about the players, the staff and everyone else working at the football club. It’s not a personal thing. The team is more important than anything else.”
George Burley, chair of the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel, said: “December proved to be an excellent month for Nigel as his team gained a 100 per cent record and only conceded one goal in three games. This is the consistency which he has been looking for and it has taken the club back into the promotion mix.”
Sky Sports’ Football League pundit Don Goodman added: “Nigel’s perfect December has thrown the League One promotion chase back open. Sheffield United were hotly-tipped for promotion before the season but their inconsistency has hindered them up until now. I expect them to push on from their strong Christmas form and must now be considered genuine promotion contenders.”