Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has shed further light on the thinking behind his decision not to arrange loan moves for Steelphalt Academy graduates Ryan Slater and Rhys Norrington-Davies.
In a departure from the usual method employed to accelerate a young player’s development, Wilder confirmed ahead of Saturday’s game against Preston North End that neither teenager will be placed with a lower league club until next summer at the earliest.
But, drawing comparisons with the way he handled Wales international David Brooks after promoting him through the system, Wilder said: “Turning the clock back, when I was a kid, stepping in to training with the first team was sink or swim pretty much. Those boys know it’s a harsh environment but they know, if they come through it, they’ll be better players and characters.”
Character and attitude are key attributes for Wilder who, despite embracing scientific advancements in the game, believes personality ultimately decides which footballers go on to enjoy successful careers.
Slater impressed coaching staff with his performance during United’s FA Cup victory over Ipswich Town earlier this month while Norrington-Davies could make his debut when North End visit South Yorkshire in the competition’s fourth round.
“Being around lads who want to win Monday to Friday, and on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons, will be really beneficial for them,” Wilder said. “Then, we can sit down in the summer and see where they are before deciding what the best thing to improve them is.”