Loan star tipped for success as move for Rangers duo collapses

SHEFFIELD United loan star Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has been tipped to be a ‘real asset’ to the club’s promotion push this season by manager Danny Wilson.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers winger, still only 19, has stepped down from the Premier League to try to kick-start his career with the Blades and scored his first goal in last weekend’s home victory over Bury.

Deemed surplus to requirements by Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, he failed to agree personal terms on a permanent move to Bramall Lane this summer but now has four months to prove his worth.

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Wilson believes the former England Under-17 international has all the raw talent at his disposal to become a top player but has also identified his match fitness as a key area for improvement.

“We need to keep working with Nathan,” said Wilson. “He needs a rigorous fitness programme which we will do this week because it’s a free week (without a midweek fixture).

“If we can get him into an area where he is more athletic and more consistent in games, we will have a real, real asset on our hands.

“From what we have seen already, he can be a major threat but there is still loads to come. He has pace to burn and the more he gets to play with us and the more understanding he gets, the more he will become a great asset.”

Unfortunately the Blades will not be able to pair Mendez-Laing with Rangers duo John Fleck and Kyle Hutton, whose moves have not been ratified.

United tried to bring the duo in on deadline day last week, but the paperwork was not completed in time, and they will not be able to bring them in when the loan window re-opens later this month.

Director Scott McCabe said: “It has been a frustrating time for all concerned but we have had to admit defeat. We had expected the transfers to go through and were surprised when we were told they had not been completed.”

Mendez-Laing is a product of Wolves’ youth academy and made his debut two seasons ago in the Carling Cup against Swindon Town. He spent last season on loan at Peterborough United – and helped the club win promotion from League One – but, again, talks over a permanent move collapsed in the summer.

Having committed his immediate future to the Blades, Mendez-Laing – whose contract at Wolves does not expire until summer 2013 – says another promotion is ‘definitely’ on the cards.

“It was a great feeling to win promotion last season and hopefully we can do the same here,” he said. “It’s early days but it should be no problem getting out of this league. We have already got off to a better start than I did at Peterborough last season.

“We have a great team, we are scoring goals, and we are defending well. You are always finding your feet in the first few games of a new season but the performance against Bury was exactly the sort we are aiming for. This is the right club for me and I want to help it into the Championship.”

By his own admission, the weekend goal against Bury was a fluke as goalkeeper Cameron Belford misjudged an intended cross and allowed the ball to squeeze inside his near post. “To be fair, it was a cross. I cannot deny that,” he said. “But he misjudged it and it’s got to go down as my goal. Hopefully, that will be the first of many. I scored five last season (for Peterborough) and I am looking to better that this season. The four-nil and three-nil wins will start coming now. But as long as the team is winning, it doesn’t matter who scores the goals. It’s nice to score but I also feel that an assist is as good as a goal.”

Mendez-Laing has nothing but praise for Wilson and says his new manager has already gone some way to winning over any doubters after crossing the Steel City divide.

“They are definitely taking to him,” he said. “We have started to play well and I think the fans can see that. They have got off his back and they are starting to like the football we are playing. They are enjoying coming to our games and the crowds are getting bigger.

“On a personal level, he is a great manager and he’s easy to get on with. He gets involved and has a laugh but when it comes to the serious times, he is bang on point.”

Weaver injury blow rocks wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson has revealed Nicky Weaver faces a long period on the sidelines.

The Owls goalkeeper missed out on a return to his former club Charlton on Monday night with a knee injury, as Wednesday recovered from a goal down to grab their first away point of the season.

But it was not all good news.

“Weaver will be out for a long time, we think,” said Megson.

Megson was otherwise pleased after Clinton Morrison earned the Owls a draw in arguably their toughest away game to date.

Wednesday had previously been beaten at Bournemouth and Bury, but Megson was impressed with his side’s desire.

He said: “While we haven’t played any champagne football, we have played with a lot more heart, a lot more desire and a lot more running in the second half. But we can’t come to a top team who are up near the top of the league and give them a goal in the opening few minutes.”