Youth will get its chance at Sheffield United says Slavisa Jokanovic

AS far as Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic is concerned, age will be no barrier in the make-up of his starting line-up during 2021-22.

Slavisa Jokanovic: Will give youth its chance. Picture: Sportimage
Slavisa Jokanovic: Will give youth its chance. Picture: Sportimage

His message to his players is an unequivocal one. Namely, that if you are good enough, you are old enough.

Equally, those players who may be in the winter of their careers will not be discriminated against in terms of their age.

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In that context, United’s young brigade – including the likes of Daniel Jebbison and Antwoine Hackford – have the chance to impress and stake a claim in the build-up to the season alongside the club’s senior players.

Jokanovic remains open-minded as you have to be in order to negotiate the nine-month Championship marathon which is the ultimate test of endurance, fortitude and mentality.

Jokanovic, who famously gave a teenage star in Ryan Sessegnon the platform to shine at previous club Fulham, commented: “I do not care about young and old. I will play players who are 16 years old or 36. I trust only the players.

“I do not treat young players like kids. I treat them like adult people. I worked with 12 players (at the start of training) and then brought 10 from the under-23s to cover the work.

“They can impress me and take it (the chance) and that is it. I am not scared of playing players who are young and old.

“You must be strong. The competition is tough and you need strong people and players. I do not care about age but personality. To compete in this competition without personality is impossible.

Meanwhile, the club are taking ‘precautionary measures’ to prevent a major outbreak of Covid-19 within their first team squad ahead of the forthcoming season.

This follows unconfirmed reports claiming two positive cases had been identified within Jokanovic’s squad, who spent last week in Marbella on a week-long training camp at a football complex in the resort.

United are due to visit League One side Doncaster Rovers in a friendly tomorrow week on Wednesday, July 28.

Seventy-two hours later, they are scheduled to face Norwich City in another pre-season encounter.

Blades captain Billy Sharp could feature in the friendly against former club Rovers as he steps up his preparations to be ready for the start of the new season.

Sharp, 35, underwent surgery to remedy a thigh injury in mid-April.