Chris Wilder says timing is everything as Sheffield United judge when the kids are all right to play

Chris Wilder has told his young Sheffield United players to trust him that he knows when the time is right for them to play – and to sit out.

Andre Brooks was a figurehead of the changing of the guard when Wilder replaced Paul Heckingbottom as manager in December, the midfielder handed his first Premier League start in Wilder's first game back at his boyhood club and keeping his place for the next seven.

Since then, though, he has only started one out of six, and was substituted after 50 minutes of the 5-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

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Wilder believes a spell on the sidelines can do the 20-year-old Sheffielder some good as he sees how the bottom-of-the-Premier League side deals with some tough times.

Meanwhile, he is waiting for the right time to introduce fellow midfielder Oliver Arblaster, recovered from injury and on the bench in the last two games but yet to get onto the field for Wilder.

The manager knows putting youngsters – especially those born in the city – into the team can add a "freshness" to it as Brooks and striker Will Osula have shown this winter, and that the presence of academy-reared players is a morale boost to supporters needing reasons to be positive about the future.

Equally, he cannot be selfish and risk damaging players earmarked as key in the seasons to come.

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"Timing is key," said Wilder. "He's got to trust me that it's the right time, that he's ready to go. But there are other things we've got to look at and put into our thinking in terms of when we make that decision to let him fly.

DIPPED OUT: Sheffield United midfielder Andre BrooksDIPPED OUT: Sheffield United midfielder Andre Brooks
DIPPED OUT: Sheffield United midfielder Andre Brooks

"You go on your experience. It's quite easy for me to do that, I could have done it (introduced Arblaster) against Brighton with the scoreline as it was (the Blades lost 5-0) but I don't think it would productive or positive for him."

Sheffield-born Arblaster – who made his Blades debut in last season's League Cup first round and added four Championship appearances, three from the bench – started this campaign on loan at League One Port Vale but was brought back early to be part of the Premier League squad.

"He has to trust me, and the coaching staff and I have to make the right decision about the timing – right the way through, about all the young players,” said Wilder.

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"Iliman (Ndiaye) was with us for five or six months, training with the first team. Brooksy was with us for a long time before we went bang, in you go. He took another step forward in pre-season and then he was up and running and we know the outcome of his full debut and what that was all about.

WAITING: Oliver Arblaster has been an unused substitute for Sheffield United recentlyWAITING: Oliver Arblaster has been an unused substitute for Sheffield United recently
WAITING: Oliver Arblaster has been an unused substitute for Sheffield United recently

"So yeah, timing's key – right environment, right time and hopefully we can all get it right."

Like Arblaster and Osula, Brooks got his first tastes of senior football under Heckingbottom but his career began in earnest when Wilder picked him for December's home game against Liverpool. In recent weeks his involvement has been scaled back, though.

"He had a great start and a lot of information chucked at him because it's not (under-)21s football, you can get punished if you don't press or whatever," explained Wilder.

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"He's had a great start to his (senior) career, he played a couple of times last year but the experiences he's had will make him better.

"He's been ill for a little period and one of the reasons we pulled him out at Luton was it needed a bit more experience but he's back in with us and he'll play a part before the end of the season.

"I'm delighted to have him back.

"Sometimes when you're in and amongst it you don't know what's going on above it so sometimes you come out and take a breather.

"He's still with the squad and will be, he's in the meetings and everything, he's inclusive of those meetings and everything we're doing as a first team even if he's not playing."

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The team selection at Luton Town earlier this month Wilder referred to was part of a very deliberate – and successful – strategy to go with more experienced players. Generally, though, Wilder sees the value of involving emerging talent.

"There’s a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the season,” he said, suggesting there could be more to come.

"They’re part of, I'm delighted they're part of it, they bring a freshness, a newness and an enthusiasm to the group.

"We’re delighted they're in and amongst us and there’s a reason for it – because they're good enough to be in and amongst us.

“Hopefully they will show that when given the opportunity."

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Lithuainian under-17 international Dovydas Sasnauskas was on the bench at Molineux, and Billy Blacker, Sydie Peck and Ryan One have all been in matchday squads under Wilder, but England youth international midfielder Arblaster would appear to be the next cab off the rank.

His chance, it would seem, is not far away. The same can probably be said of Brooks’ second wind.

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