MAR­CUS AIMS TO BE A LION Blades keeper’s big test

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Dan Barnes

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.”

Ac­tion

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.”

PIC­TURE: Simon Bel­lis/Spor­tim­age

SAFE HANDS: Young Sh­effield United goal­keeper Mar­cus De­whurst

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