Sheffield United – Young Stars Shine

The title read ‘We see you’ and the folk responsible for Sheffield United’s social media output also attached a video of his goals against Swindon to the body of the tweet.

It confirmed Regan Slater’s performances on loan at Carlisle are not going unnoticed. Both in the Championship club’s public relations department and, even more importantly, the bootroom at Bramall Lane.

The midfielder, who has been earmarked as a potential first teamer of the future by Chris Wilder and his staff, is among a number of Steelphalt Academy graduates completing the next phase of their education after leaving the youth ranks.

United’s manager believes experiencing competitive football, “proper football” as he calls it, is far more beneficial than another prolonged spell in the development game. So the best up-and-coming players are routinely farmed-out elsewhere before, after studying their report cards, a view is taken on whether or not they are suitable for permanent positions within the 51-year-old’s squad.

The footage of Slater powering past defenders and smashing two unstoppable shots into the back of Lawrence Vigouroux’s net suggests it is a policy set to deliver results. Maybe not in the short-term, as United jockey for position at the top of the Championship.

But if Slater and his contemporaries continue to impress then pre-season, when Wilder truly has time to pause and take stock, could offer almost limitless possibilities for those with the talent and potential required to build professional careers.

Slater, aged 19, has already made three appearances for United after catching the manager’s eye last term. John Sheridan, Wilder’s good friend and counterpart at Brunton Park, is pleased with what he has witnessed since too.

“He’s only young and you can see what a good player he’s going to be,” the former Republic of Ireland international said following Slater’s brace at the County Ground. “He’s what, five foot three and weighs about eight stone? But there’s just something about him – this arrogance, not as a lad but as a footballer. He goes out there and thinks he’s six foot five on the pitch,” Sheridan added.

“We had really good reports from Sheffield United (when Slater signed). Chris is a good mate of mine and I’m thankful he let him come to us. I think Chris believes that if he comes to us, he’s going to come back to them a better player.”

United’s ‘On-loan Brigade’ can be split into two distinct camps: Those progressing through the system and older professionals in need of regular games. Slater’s recent exploits have placed him at the forefront of the former although Callum Semple is also earning excellent reviews at Queen if the South. Tyler Smith, Harvey Gilmour and Sam Graham have also made encouraging starts to the campaign after being placed with lower league clubs.

David Parkhouse, a Northern Ireland under-21 international, joined Boston on a similar basis towards the end of last month while Rhys Norrington-Davies is progressing well at Barrow. A centre-half, he is a regular started for Wales’ under-21 side.

Although Ricky Holmes and Samir Carruthers are among those facing uncertain futures in South Yorkshire and are likely to move on when the transfer window reopens, Ched Evans appears to most likely member of the second group to granted another opportunity under Wilder.

The centre-forward’s susceptibility to minor injury remains a cause for concern but six goals in 15 outings for Fleetwood Town suggest his finishing skills are becoming much sharper.

Centre-half Ben Heneghan is another who could potentially earn a reprieve if United decide against handing Martin Cranie a new contract in January.

Sheffield United’s On-Loan Army:

Regan Slater

Club: Carlisle United

Position: Midfielder

Division: League Two

Appearances: 15

Playing Percentage: 65

Tyler Smith

Club: Barrow AFC

Position: Forward

Division: National League

Appearances: 19

Playing Percentage: 95

Sam Graham

Club: Oldham Athletic

Position: Defender

Division: League Two

Appearances: 9

Playing Percentage: 39

Callum Semple

Club: Queen of the South

Position: Defender

Division: Scottish Championship

Appearances: 21

Playing Percentage: 100

Harvey Gilmour

Club: Tranmere Rovers

Position: Midfielder

Division: League Two

Appearances: 16

Playing Percentage: 70

Ched Evans

Club: Fleetwood Town

Position: Forward

Division: League One

Appearances: 15

Playing Percentage: 63

Nathan Thomas

Club: Notts County

Position: Forward

Division: League Two

Appearances: 17

Playing Percentage: 74

Ricky Holmes

Club: Oxford United

Position: Midfielder

Division: League One

Appearances: 16

Playing Percentage: 64

Samir Carruthers

Club: Oxford United

Position: Midfielder

Division: League One

Appearances: 6

Playing Percentage: 24

Caolan Lavery

Club: Bury

Position: Forward

Division: League Two

Appearances: 3

Playing Percentage: 13

Ben Heneghan

Club: Blackpool

Position: Defender

Division: League One

Appearances: 18

Playing Percentage: 72

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