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Positive future for Sheffield United after Hackford debut and Ayari progress

Antwoine Hackford making his Sheffield United debut is just the start of a bright future for the club.

That’s according to head of academy, Jack Lester, who works with the club’s up-and-coming prospects on a daily basis.

At 16 years and 288 days old, Hackford became the Blades’ youngest ever Premier League player earlier this month when he came off the bench in the 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Fellow youngster Kyron Gordon was named on the bench by manager Chris Wilder for the recent 3-2 FA Cup win at Bristol Rovers.

Meanwhile, Hassan Ayari played his first Under-23s game against Hull City this week. Ayari scored twice in a 4-2 victory.

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Zak Brunt is another believed to be catching the eye in the youth ranks.

With Rhys Norrington-Davies impressing on loan in the Championship and earning his first senior Wales caps this season, as well as Regan Slater and Tyler Smith getting game time in League One sides, there is plenty to be positive about.

Hackford and Ayari just the start for Sheffield United

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Lester is very positive about what’s happening under his watch at Shirecliffe.

The former Blade thinks investment in youth coaching is working and Hackford’s debut has given all his teammates hope about their own prospects.

“We have invested in the coaching structure here, and we have some top coaches around Antwoine,” Lester told Yorkshire Live.

“He is one of a few really good players bubbling under the surface here.

“For the Academy it shows the lads here that, even as young as 16, if you work hard and are doing well then you’ll get a chance, so that’s great for everyone here.”

Former Chesterfield boss Lester is just one of the Blades coaches who has experience of being the one in charge.

Ex-Barnsley and Leeds United manager, Paul Heckingbottom, is the Under-23s boss.

It shows how much the club’s hierarchy are committing to the academy system.

Things may not be going well for the first team as things stand. But the future is certainly looking very bright.

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