NEW Bury signing Tom Hopper was preparing for a match in the Leicester City development squad when Peter Shirtliff made the SOS call last week.

With David Healy injured, Shaun Harrad and Andy Bishop unable to be called back from loan and Lenell John-Lewis and Lateef Elford-Alliyu mis-firing, Shirtliff’s one month loan offer looked like an act of desperation.

Yet the 18-year-old, who was awarded his first professional contract in the summer, acquitted himself well on his league debut.

The fact it was in front of a 17,000-strong crowd at Bramall Lane just emphasised what a calm head Hopper must have on his young shoulders.

“When I first found out that I was being thrown in at the deep end at Sheffield United I was slightly nervous, but it was good,” he said.

“This is what it’s all about, playing football at places like this, and hopefully I will get more of it.”

Hopper failed to score against the Blades and was in the starting line-up again in Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Prenton Park.

“You learn with each game you play, take something from it and progress. Hopefully I’ll get some more chances to prove what I can do.”