Sheffield United: Iliman Ndiaye and Jack Robinson are showered with praise following win over Fulham

Iliman Ndiaye has only shown a glimpse of his true potential, Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has insisted, despite hailing the youngster’s contribution during last night’s victory at Championship leaders Fulham.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 5:00 am

Heckingbottom, who also described Jack Robinson’s performance against Aleksandar Mitrovic as “fantastic”, cited Ndiaye’s work “on and off the ball” as being crucial to a result which moved United to within three points of the play-offs positions.

The 21-year-old’s superb solo effort, at the beginning of a match which saw Mitrovic fail to escape Robinson’s clutches until he struck the woodwork deep into added time, means Heckingbottom has now won all three of his matches since being placed in charge last month.

“Iliman, we’ve not seen the best of him yet,” said Heckingbottom, who handed the Frenchman his senior debut during a spell as caretaker manager last term. “Nowhere near in fact.

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Sheffield United's Iliman Ndiaye celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the Sky Bet Championship match at Craven Cottage, London. Picture date: Monday December 20, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Fulham. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

“I thought he performed really well. On the ball, obviously with the goal he scored because that was excellent. But also off it. His work rate was top class, really top drawer.”

“There was a real willingness from him to help out defensively and try and win the ball back,” Heckingbottom added. “He’s coachable and is a real hard worker. I’m delighted to be working with him and I’m looking forward to working with him a lot more in the future.”

Having scored 25 times in his first 26 outings since August, Mitrovic was supposed to be the star of a show featuring two teams who were relegated from the Premier League earlier this year. But Ndiaye grabbed the lead role, slicing through Fulham’s rearguard before producing a superb finish to beat Marek Rodak.

Deputising for Ben Davies, who was granted permission to miss the game for personal reasons, Robinson also excelled; keeping Mitrovic quiet until the Serb saw a shot cannon back off the crossbar during the closing stages.

Sheffield United's Iliman Ndiaye scores their side's first goal of the game during the Sky Bet Championship match at Craven Cottage, London. Picture date: Monday December 20, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Fulham. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

“Jack was fantastic,” Heckingbottom said. “I had no doubts about him performing like that because he’s been training really hard and showing the levels. If we are going to achieve what we want, then we’re going to have to have a few more players step in and then step up like that between now and the end.”