Sheffield United teenager's career has been on a rapid rise but Chris Wilder warns next step will be hardest

So far Sam Curtis' football career has been on a steep upward trajectory but Chris Wilder has warned him the next step will be a big one if he is to establish himself in a new-look Sheffield United team.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 defender made his first appearance in senior English football on Saturday, coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute for Oliver Arblaster in the 1-0 defeat to Everton.

Manager Wilder is looking to build afresh at Bramall Lane after a dire relegation season which will end with a lot of players out of contract.

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The idea is to build around young players and whilst midfielder Arblaster has been much talked-about in that regard, he cannot do it alone. Will Osula and Daniel Jebbison are set for prominent roles, along with Andre Brooks, who started at Goodison Park, but others will be needed too.

George Baldock is expected to join Panathinaikos on a free transfer and his fellow right-back Jayden Bogle is also due to become a free agent, opening the door to 18-year-old Curtis.

Curtis captained the Republic of Ireland Under-15s when he was just 13 and broke the record as the League or Ireland's youngest debutant when he played against Athlone Town as a 14-year-old.

Having played through the age groups, he made his Under-21 debut at the age of 17 and had trials with Roma, Bayer Leverkusen, and Feyenoord before making the move to Sheffield in the last transfer window.

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DEBUT: Sheffield United's Sam CurtisDEBUT: Sheffield United's Sam Curtis
DEBUT: Sheffield United's Sam Curtis

But Wilder has warned him the next jump in his career will be a big one, and he thinks Curtis will appreciate that now.

“I think he will look back at it (his debut) and think: ‘Wow!'" he said.

"It’s a different league, a different set-up, different pace to what he’s accustomed to.

"It wasn’t by any means an accomplished debut but it’s given him a taste of what the Premier League is like. How physical it is, how quick it is. He has to get up to speed if he wants to be part of everything going forward.”

Although Curtis will be playing Championship football is he can establish himself in the Blades' team next season, the aim will be to get back to the top flight as soon as possible.

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