The question of how to best develop young English players has seen FA chiefs traverse the globe, writes James Shield.
Visit places like Clairefontaine and Coverciano.
Louis Reed, who could win his first under-18 cap later this week, reckons they would be better-off asking Sheffield United.
“This is a football club that gives people like me a chance,” the midfielder said. “It’s know for bringing home-grown talent through the ranks and that’s one of the reasons why I’m really fortunate to be here.
“When you look at some of the lads who have been in the system, Kyle Walker, Phil Jagielka and Kyle Naughton, it proves we’re doing something right. Southampton get lots of recognition for what they do at youth level but, as far as I’m concerned, our team deserves as much if not even more.”
Dominic Solanke, a striker Jose Mourinho is convinced can lead the line at Chelsea, Newcastle’s Adam Armstrong and Sheyi Ojo who commanded a £2m fee when, four seasons ago, he swapped MK Dons for Anfield. Reed, the latest prospect to roll-off the Redtooth Academy’s conveyor belt, will be keeping impressive company during his stay at St George’s Park. Indeed, it is a measure of the 17-year-old’s progress since being promoted by Nigel Clough that he is the only member of Neil Dewsnip’s 20 strong squad attached to a League One club.
“It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind really,” Reed told The Star. “I didn’t even expect to be working with the main group this season but I got called-up by the gaffer and the rest, I suppose, has gone from there.
“I’ve got so much to thank him (Clough) for because, at the end of the day, he’s the one who really gave me my chance. The one who really believed in me.
“Travis Binnion, my under-18’s coach here, had been championing me for ages and so I owe him a massive amount too. To be honest, there’s too many to mention because all the staff here, at all age groups, have really helped me out ever since I first came here.”
“The rest of the lads have been a huge help as well,” he continued. “Harry Maguire, who came through our system, has also been a big influence even though we’ve got different positions. He’s at Hull now as everybody knows but he phoned me after the announcement to wish me luck.”
Fortune doesn’t come into it. Reed, who has made 30 outings for United this term, will miss tonight’s League One fixture against Scunthorpe as he prepares for the double-header with Switzerland which, following a behind-closed-doors contest, culminates in Saturday’s friendly at Walsall. Nevertheless, it was his performance during United’s recent draw at Glanford Park which appears to have sealed the England deal.
“I know they’ve been watching me for a while but it’s probably a good thing I didn’t know things were getting serious,” Reed said. “It was on the way down to our game at Walsall last week when I found out.
“We were on the bus and Morgs (Chris Morgan) came walking down to show me the email that had come through on his phone.”
“I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from being involved,” Reed added. “The manager has reminded me to soak everything up and that’s it’s another important part of my development.
“I do feel as if I’ve grown-up a lot after being involved with the first team lads here. It’s funny because, when you’re with the under-18’s and you see him (Clough) walking around the place, you always get quite nervous because he’s the boss. But he’s been great with me. He’s always sitting me down and telling me different things. Even when I haven’t done that well, and I dropped out of the team for a bit, he made sure he explained why and reassured me that, when I did get back in, I’d know even better what to do. That honesty is brilliant because you don’t pick anything up if all people do is tell you what you want to hear.”
A statement which turned the conversation neatly to Reed’s boyhood hero Paul Scholes.
“His tackling wasn’t the best and that’s something I can get a lot better at too,” Reed said. “I think it’s got stronger but there’s always room to improve.”