MARCUS AIMS TO BE A LION Blades keeper’s big test
SHEFFIELD United teenager Marcus Dewhurst is aiming to grasp the opportunity in front of him with two very safe hands.
The17-year-old stopper looks set to be part of Steve Cooper’s England squad for the 2018 European Under-17 Championship, which kick off next Friday.
Striving to become the next Phil Foden or Rhian Brewster, two youngsters who captured the hearts of the nation by winning last year’s Under-17 World Cup in India, Dewhurst is hoping to be at the centre of the action as the next generation of Young Lions host the continent’s best youngsters.
Dewhurst, who signed his first professional contract at Bramall Lane in March, developed as an outfield player until the age of 14 and views himself as a modern, progressive goalkeeper.
“I used to play as a striker and in central midfield – it wasn’t working out!” said Dewhurst. “I kept being told I should try going in goal because, whenever my keeper was injured, I’d go in and I used to enjoy it.
“I got scouted within the first five months of playing in goal. One of my main strengths, coming from my past, is playing with my feet. It’s helped me a lot. It’s something that not a lot of goalkeepers can do.
“I look up to Jordan Pickford (Everton) and Ederson from Man City. They’re good with their feet and they make saves as well.
“When I watch them, I watch what they do in goal first, but I then also look at what they do with distribution as well. It’s not just about keeping the ball out of the net.”
As host nation, Cooper’s England roll out the red carpet for the likes of Spain, Germany and Italy, who they face in Group A, along with Switzerland and Israel.
The Proact Stadium in Chesterfield, Burton’s Pirelli Stadium and the New York Stadium, home of Rotherham United, are all among the EFL stadia that will see European Championship action, with the latter hosting the final on May 20.
There will doubtless be pressure.
With two England Under-20 sides winning their version of the World Cup and the Toulon Tournament respectively – Dewhurst’s teammate and now-full Welsh international David Brooks was part of the latter squad – Cooper’s charges will face expectation like never before.
The young Blades stopper is keen to rise to the occasion, however.
“Representing the country means a lot to me because there’s a lot of people that want my spot, but I’m the one that’s got it,” said Dewhurst.
“Coming from Sheffield, it’s good to have it locally. I’ll have support from my friends and family. A lot of people will come anyway but it’s not far for them to come and watch me.
“It’s a big opportunity because it can get you noticed.
“I watched the World Cup last year and I was thinking, ‘That will be me soon’.
“The success through the ages, being successful in different championships; to be part of a successful country means a lot.
“I think there’s a little bit of pressure because we can’t be the age group that doesn’t win a championship.
“But it’s a big opportunity. It’s an honour because there are players I look up to that have played in the tournament before – players like Wayne Rooney.
“A lot of people will be watching and it’s a big opportunity.”
SAFE HANDS: Young Sheffield United goalkeeper Marcus Dewhurst