LOUIS REED will be donning ‘L’ plates this weekend, but it will not be anything to do with the 17-year-old’s fledgling football career.
The Penistone-born midfielder – who yesterday signed a new three-year contract after just one start for the Blades – will be embarking on his first driving lesson.
Although Reed proved fearless on his full debut in the opening-day defeat to Bristol City that was shown live on Sky, he admits the prospect of getting behind the wheel is a different story.
“I have my first driving lesson on Sunday,” said the youngster, who celebrated his 17th birthday on July 25. “I am more nervous about that than playing football. Hopefully, it will be okay.”
Reed, if he can remain as composed as during both last Saturday’s opener at Bramall Lane and his first-team debut as a substitute against Rotherham United last April, should have no fears about finding his way safely around the roads of South Yorkshire.
Signed at the age of eight by the Blades, the youngster was lured away to Manchester United while still at first school.
The offer of a possible return, though, was left open and Reed did return to the United fold five years ago.
Since then, Reed, educated at the same grammar school in Penistone as United coach Chris Morgan, has been earmarked as having the potential to make the grade.
Manager Nigel Clough is among those impressed by the precocious youngster, which is why the former England striker brought Reed off the bench against Rotherham to make him the youngest player to don the club’s famous red and white stripes in the Football League.
Speaking after watching Reed sign his new deal, Clough said: “What I do find hard to believe is Louis went to the same school as Chris Morgan. That school must have had a huge shift in policy during that time.
“Seriously, though, from what we have seen of Louis so far, he has the potential to go far and I hope that is with us.
“We have given him a three-year contract but that is only because we can’t give more than three years at the age of 17. It is an FA rule that a contract can only be longer when a lad is 18.
“He has probably edged ahead of a few others (in the Academy) who have a good chance of getting in the first-team squad.
“It is incredible that he has only just turned 17; he has had a terrific pre-season and is progressing really well.”
For Reed, the path he has taken to the first team from the youth set-up is a well trodden one and the teenager admits those that have gone before him have been an inspiration.
“I was really pleased to sign the contract,” said Reed, who until passing his driving test will continue to cadge lifts to training from Morgan and new team-mate Chris Basham. “It is what I always wanted.
“I had a feeling I might be involved in pre-season but I only found out half-an-hour before the warm-up (against Bristol City) that I was in the starting line-up.
“Big thanks to the gaffer and the Under-18s management as well for all they have done. They pushed me on and made me strive for the first team.
“It is great being at a club that has history for Academy players coming through. Kyle Walker is in the Premier League and Harry Maguire has just signed for Hull.
“That is a big encouragement to see lads who have gone from the Academy to playing week-in and week-out (in the first team). That is the main aim for me.”
Reed is hoping to be involved tonight when United return to knockout football for the first time since losing to Hull City at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final.
Club captain Michael Doyle and Neill Collins, both on the bench last Saturday against the Robins, are due to start as Clough targets a decent run in a competition that has not been overly kind to United in recent years.
“We want to get that first win of the season,” said Clough as United look to claim what would only be their second League Cup victory since 2008.
“Teams need to get into good habits and if we follow Saturday with another defeat then, all of a sudden, people will be asking where our next point is coming from.
“We saw last season the benefits that can come from having a good cup run. It would also put us through to the next round when a few of the Premier League boys come in.
“Mansfield will be tough. When the draw was made, I am sure they will have absolutely relished this tie.
“They are big and strong and they won’t give us anything. We will have to play well.”
Last six games: Sheffield United LWDWWL, Mansfield Town WDLLWL.
Last time: Sheffield United 1 Mansfield Town 2; April 25, 1989; Division Three.
Referee: G Eltringham (County Durham).