Why Jack Lester's international call-up was delayed and how Sheffield United can benefit now

Without the budgets of most of their Premier League rivals, Sheffield United have to compete in other ways and Jack Lester's recent international call-up shows they have a well-respected coach.

The former striker turned down the chance to link up with his old Blades team-mate Rob Page with Wales last season to focus on club work but was part of the staff for September's games against South Korea and Latvia.

"He knows Pagey well, they're good mates, we spoke about it last season," revealed Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom. "Both me and Jack didn't think it was right then, it was a bloody single-mindedness to get promoted.

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"As much as I want people to do that, imagine if we'd fallen I'd been thinking that was one of the reasons. It was just blinkers on to get us over the line."

Heckingbottom likes to surround himself with assistants who specialise in one department of the team – the forwards in Lester's case – who have management experience. His time in charge of Chesterfield means the 47-year-old is not purely focused on the front men.

"There has to be substance to what's delivered," stressed Heckingbottom. "We work really hard to make sure the pieces of the jigsaw fit together so not only is there individual help, support and coaching, there has to be some coaching linked to how the team plays both in and out of possession.

"I think it's getting that right that's important and that makes a more skilled coach than getting a player better with his left foot, it's bigger than that, and I think Jack's enjoying linking it to our game and our team."

It gives Heckingbottom a chance to tap into new ideas.

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“You can get in a bubble in football and other interests are key, other people to speak to,” he said. “It gets him out of our environment and just listening to me and Macca (Stuart McCall) all the time.

"He came back really excited about something he did with them. He came back with little things he's picked up that worked really well with Wales. It freshens things up.”

Lester’s reputation spreading is also useful for the Blades in trying to sign forwards, either permanently on loan, keen to improve.