Sheffield United: 'He deserves to start in front of me' admits international defender ahead of Championship clash with Derby County

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Rhys Norrington-Davies deserves to start today’s match against Derby County, his Sheffield United team mate Enda Stevens has admitted after acknowledging they are now direct rivals for a place in Slavisa Jokanovic’s first choice eleven.

Speaking ahead of the meeting with Wayne Rooney’s side, Jokanovic challenged Norrington-Davies and Stevens to ‘confuse’ him when it comes to deciding who is handed the task of marshalling the left flank of United’s defence over the coming weeks.

With Stevens missing the start of the season through injury, Norrington-Davies has emerged as Jokanovic’s preferred option for the role and appears destined to get the nod this afternoon. However with Stevens confirming his return to fitness during the Carabao Cup tie with Southampton four days ago - the Republic of Ireland international scored a goal before going on to complete the fixture - Jokanovic could be tempted to hand him another opportunity either when United travel to Middlesbrough on Tuesday or AFC Bournemouth next weekend.

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“Rhys, it’s his spot now, it’s his shirt to lose,” Stevens said, after telling The Star how a misdiagnosis was responsible for his lengthy absence. “You just have to wait for your chance in situations like this and that’s what I have to do because Rhys, for me, he’s done brilliant.”

Aged 22 and capped six times by Wales, Norrington-Davies has made five appearances for United this term after being handed his debut by Jokanovic last month.

"It's a squad game and everyone is going to play their part," Stevens said. "But I'll have to be patient and I'll be helping Rhys all I can in the meantime."