By Joe Harris: Sheffield United Under-18s manager Derek Geary has admitted it was very rewarding to see the club’s academy well-represented during the international break.
Of their current crop of apprentices, David Parkhouse featured in Northern Ireland’s Under-21 squad, Jordan Doherty was involved with Republic of Ireland Under-18s and Rhys Norrington-Davies played for Wales Under-19s, while Marcus Dewhurst joined up with England’s Under-17 group as a training goalkeeper.
“They’re developing nicely and all deserve the call up,” Geary told LFE. “The kids’ development is the most important thing. I can sit here and moan about results all I like, but when you see them developing and playing for their countries that’s rewarding and you know that they’re becoming better players because of it.”
The Blades can also claim credit for two more England youth internationals, with Under-21s striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) and Under-20s goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (AFC Bournemouth) both graduating from the SteelPhalt Academy before earning moves to the Premier League.
And the long line of internationals to come through the ranks does not just apply to youth squads, with Kyle Walker (Manchester City) and Harry Maguire (Leicester City) both appearing in England’s senior friendlies against Germany and Brazil having learned their trade with the Blades.
Geary said: “We focus on embedding them into what we expect of the boys in a couple of years’ time. It’s vital that we give them the opportunity so that when they do go into their scholarships they are not playing in the youth team for the first time and they have done it beforehand.
“It’s important that they have a feel of what it’s like to play at this level and look at the bigger picture, and if they do well they’ll be noticed by their country.”
Another academy product to earn senior recognition was highly-rated midfielder David Brooks, who recently signed a new contract at the club after producing a string of impressive performances to earn a regular slot in the first-team.
“He was in the Under-23s when I first arrived, but all the lads have worked with him in the 18’s and he’s gone on and done brilliant,” Geary added. “One thing about young players is that they will always go on and surprise you, they probably don’t even know themselves how they end up springing to a platform.
“He’s surprised me at times and good luck to him, he’s a player that can go onto be whatever he wants to be.”