Sheffield United beat off competition from top flight clubs to sign Ilkeston Town starlet Che Adams, manager Nigel Clough revealed yesterday.
Adams, a former Coventry City academy star whose displays in non-league earned him a call up to the England C squad, was reportedly watched by 45 scouts at Ilkeston’s last home game against Stamford, with Newcastle, Sunderland and Rangers all keen.
But it was Clough who secured the 18-year-old’s services yesterday morning, paying an undisclosed sum in a reported six-figure deal, which also includes a sell-on clause.
Clough received a personal recommendation on Adams’ abilities from Steve Chettle, Ilkeston’s assistant manager and academy boss, who worked alongside the United chief at Nottingham Forest and under him at Burton Albion.
“He’s raw but he’s got potential,” Clough said.
“And, importantly, he’s had a good grounding at Ilkeston by playing mens’ football, and being kicked from pillar to post.
“I spoke to Kevin [Wilson, Ilkeston manager] and Steve about him to get their recommendation, and I know they had calls from Premier League clubs about him, as well as several Championship clubs.
“So we’ll get him in and see how far away he is from the first team. We don’t expect too much too soon but you never know with these lads.”
In an interview prior to his Bramall Lane move Adams, who was blooded into the Ilkeston first team at 16 years of age, said: “I always felt I’d be good enough to get first team football but it was just a case of when that would happen.
“Thankfully I adapted quite well. It’s a tough level to come in at as you’re being kicked every week but that is good, as it toughens you up.
“I think it’s been better to play first team football here than, for example, to have stayed at Coventry where lads my age are being released without having played a competitive game.”
Despite signing Adams, Clough is still in the hunt for an established striker. Brighton’s Chris O’Grady remains his top target, but manager Sami Hyypia wants to bring in another frontman before he will sanction any loan move for the former Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Rotherham man.