TEENAGER Harry Maguire has been tipped to grow from a ‘baby to a man’ in his first Steel City derby.
The Sheffield United defender, who is still only 18, has been a regular this season in the absence of injured captain Chris Morgan.
Tomorrow,he will line up against Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Madine – the leading scorer in League One with 10 goals in his last 10 games.
Morgan, now player-coach at Bramall Lane, said: “This is one of those games where Harry could become a man. People forget sometimes, because he’s a ‘big lump’ and made his debut last season, that he’s not the finished article.
“He’s still a baby really, a young lad who is still learning, but he’s not silly, he knows the sort of players he’s going to be up against, and he’s got all the information he needs. I think he will relish it.”
With Morgan unlikely to be back in first-team contention before Christmas due to knee surgery, Maguire has the opportunity to stake his claim for a permanent place in the Blades’ side.
He possesses all the attributes to become a top player, according to Morgan, but still needs to concentrate on the ‘defensive side’ of his game.
“He can play but, as a centre-half, you are judged first and foremost on whether you can defend, not on your first touch or whether you can dribble the ball out of the back,” he said.
“Right now, he is concentrating on being a good defender, getting himself into good positions, and recognising who he is playing against and what are their strengths.
“There are areas he’s got to work on,” added Morgan. “He’s a big lad and, without being too critical, he needs to move that frame a bit quicker.
“The worst thing you can do is play a few first-team games and think you have made it. Football has a habit of kicking you between the legs if you think like that.
“But Harry is grounded and I think he will flourish in the derby atmosphere. He will revel in it, especially being at home. He’s very level-headed and doesn’t get carried away.”
Morgan, meanwhile, says he is ‘gutted’ to be unable to play in tomorrow’s game.