Blades boss Nigel Adkins has revealed that popular defender John Brayford has been pencilled in to play for Chris Morgan's U21s in next Thursday's Premier League Cup clash with Leeds United at Bramall Lane.
Brayford, who has been sidelined since sustaining a serious knee injury in last season's play-off semi-final first-leg against Swindon Town, suffered a minor setback in his rehabilitation last month upon returning to action against Sunderland at Stocksbridge.
But, as Adkins looks to balance his squad following the loan departures of Marc McNulty and Craig Alcock, the news of Brayford's progress comes as a major boost.
The Gaffer commented: "John is hopefully going to play for the U21s next week. We must remain cautious with him and not rush things, but he is certainly moving in the right direction.
"Our squad is changing all the time, Marc and Craig should get some valuable game time at Portsmouth and Doncaster respectively and experience tells us that we will need to be able to continue to be flexible in respect of players getting minutes, without leaving ourselves exposed."
Meanwhile, after two clean sheets in consecutive appearances, Adkins offered some words of praise for young stopper George Long, adding: "George produced another assured display on Tuesday, he has kept two clean sheets on the bounce, so that's pleasing.
"His kicking was good, his decision making was confident and he made an excellent save in the final minute, so he can be pleased with those performances."