Chris Wilder on Dominic Calvert-Lewin's double assist for his managerial career, and why he thinks youngster will play for England

Chris Wilder says Dominic Calvert-Lewin played an important part in setting up the success he had at Northampton Town and now Sheffield United.

BRAVE: The teenage Dominic Calvert-Lewin impressed Chris Wilder with his attitude

But the Blades manager believes the Everton striker's journey has much further to go, tipping the 23-year-old to play for England.

Sheffield-born Calvert-Lewin started his career at Bramall Lane but Wilder first worked with him as an 18-year-old on loan at Northampton Town. His time in red-and-white stripes was brief, but like some of the other Blades products playing in the Premier League, he helped their progression by moving on.

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An unused substitute in this season's reverse fixture, he is set to make his first appearance against the club he supported as a boy at Bramall Lane on Monday.

“We would love him to still be a Sheffield United player, although I’m not sure he would be because he’s taken enormous strides,” said Wilder of a player who has scored 15 goals this season, although none since the resumption. “He’s a lovely kid and I’m absolutely delighted in terms of what he’s done in his career.

“I know he’s a massive United fan and I know how much this club means to him. But he had to look after himself and his career. He was still a young player here.

“The big thing is that when the Premier League comes knocking like it did for Rammers (Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale), Brooksy (his team-mate David Brooks) and Dom, you can’t do anything about it.

“It might sound daft, but the money we got for three or four players was at the time hugely important. We had to trim to get value for money and use the money we got right the way through.

“Brooksy’s money went towards signing John Egan and at that time Dominic’s money was important. We couldn't really stand in his way and it’s brilliant in terms of the progression.

“I would have loved us to be in that situation now where we have the likes of Brooksy, Rammers and Doms. It was what it was at the time, you have to move on and we have done.”

It was Calvert-Lewin's bravery which impressed Wilder when he was manager of then-League Two Northampton.

“He was great for us at Northampton in the first part of the (2015-16) season,” he said. “He set us up to have the success we had in that year.

“Hopefully he enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed managing him.

“He got us some important goals (five in 20 league games). He played his part. He’s a tremendous boy. I’ve got a lot of time for Dom, he’s a tremendous kid.

“I thought it was brave of him to go out on loan and get his hands dirty, which he certainly did.

“He was athletic, but very raw. He then went on to his next step at Everton and has improved being around really good players.

“He’s the one who has taken his career to the next level and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for that.”

Calvert-Lewin is in some ways a throwback centre-forward in an era when traditional No 9s are a dying breed but he also has the modern-day qualities Wilder thinks will be of interest to Gareth Southgate. He made such rapid strides under caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson, then permanent replacement Carlo Ancelotti that before the coronavirus pandemic caused football to be suspended, Calvert-Lewin looked to be making a strong case to gatecrash Euro 2020.

“Why not?” said Wilder when asked if Calvert-Lewin could wear the Three Lions. “He’s a modern-day centre-forward, he defends from the front. He’s athletic, he’s technically brave and strong and 15 goals in the Premier League is a huge achievement for a young player.

“I’m sure that will continue and he will keep improving. He’s the sort of centre-forward everyone is after, he does everything well.

“He runs down the sides, he gets in the box, he ticks all the boxes.

“It’s just a shame he is not playing in the red and white stripes of us at this time because he would have been a great asset to us.”

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