When Cameron Carter-Vickers’ returned to Tottenham Hotspur, having spent five eventful months at Bramall Lane, it immediately prompted speculation that another Premier League loanee, Jamal Blackman, could also be set to leave.
But Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, not only quashed those fears when the question was posed ahead of the forthcoming transfer deadline, he also reassured the goalkeeper about his position at the club by confirming the Chelsea youngster will start Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Preston North End, providing the groin injury which forced him to miss last weekend’s trip to Norwich City clears-up in time.
“Jamal is closer to it than Cam, the team that is,” Wilder said. “He’s keeping Simon (Moore) right on his toes.
“His performance was excellent against (Sheffield) Wednesday in the derby recently, one save in particular, and I don’t think we’ve made enough of those big saves, both of them, at times.
“But Jam, I’ve got to say, has been excellent in training and if that lifts Simon, that’s great. If Simon dips, or he gets injured, Jamal is there. He’ll learn from this and become an even better goalkeeper. He was really good at the start.”
Blackman started the first 15 fixtures of United’s Championship campaign after agreeing a season-long move, before sustaining an injury against Queens Park Rangers. Although Moore replaced him for the next game, a 4-1 victory over Hull City, Blackman immediately regained his place before being dropped for December’s meeting with Bristol City. He has featured just once, during the third round tie at Ipswich Town, since.
Acknowledging talks have taken place with officials at Stamford Bridge to clarify the 24-year-old’s position, Wilder said: “The good thing about it is Chelsea understood it and didn’t call him back. I thought that was great, about how they think about developing players.
“It might have come as a shock to him but not once, like Cam, has he sulked and come to me. Not once has he come and said ‘I don’t like this or that,’ even though he did when he was in the team. Fair play to Chelsea for recognising that.
“And I’ve got to say, if Simon Moore plays every game between now and the end of the season, then he’s going to have to have done well to keep an outstanding goalkeeper out of the team.”
One factor behind United’s decision to release Carter-Vickers was to protect their relationship with his parent clubTottenham Hotspur. Wilder, who believes Chris Basham and new signing Ryan Leonard provide adequate cover at centre-half, feared it could predjudice further business with the Londoners if the defender spent too long languishing on the bench or, worst case scenario, failing to make the matchday squad at all.
Carter-Vickers could face United on March 10 after subsequently joining Ipswich Town until the end of the season.
“Sometimes, with young players, there is a bit of an up and down scenario,” Wilder added. “The key is the consistency, every goalkeeper will tell you that.”