Nigel Adkins has vowed to protect Sheffield United’s young players from negative influences after warning it would be a mistake to put Dominic Calvert-Lewin “on a pedestal” following his elevation into the first-team squad.
Together with fellow Steelphalt Academy graduates George Long and Louis Reed, Calvert-Lewin has started both of the League One club’s last two games as Adkins attempts to breathe new life into its faltering promotion campaign.
Despite placing home-grown talent at the heart of his long-term plans, the former Scunthorpe and Southampton chief told The Star: “The important thing is that we nurture them properly, spend time with them and manage their careers. Dominic has really impressed us put it’s important that we don’t put him on a pedestal. We have high hopes for him, as we do all the others coming through, but there’s a time to be in and a time to be out. You’ve got to bring them through in the right manner, do what’s right for them and the team.”
Calvert-Lewin, aged 18, made his full United debut against Doncaster Rovers last weekend after returning following a spell on loan with Northampton Town.
But, with Adkins’ side in desperate need of a win when Port Vale visit Bramall Lane tomorrow - they slipped to ninth in the table after being beaten by Bury three days ago - he admitted: “We are creating a clear pathway for the youngsters to come through. However, if the youngsters don’t appear, there’s a reason for it. It will be because we think it’s right for their development and also for the team to go and win.
“We have a different type of dynamic and strategy here because we are looking to get promoted ASAP. We aren’t content with just putting people on the pitch with the intention of selling them on for a price. That’s not the business model.”
“We’ve got an excellent staff here with Dean (Wilkins) and Andy (Crosby) who look after the youngsters properly,” Adkins added. “Likewise, there are the excellent academy coaches who have brought these lads through the various stages of the system and we thank them for that.”