The former Nottingham Forest defender made his first appearance since December during United’s visit to Everton last weekend, completing all 97 minutes of what proved a deserved victory for Paul Heckingbottom’s side.
Although 17-year-old Daniel Jebbison stole the headlines by scoring the only goal of the contest on his full Premier League debut, Heckingbottom cited Robinson as one of the unsung heroes of a performance United will be looking to repeat when they travel to the North-East on Wednesday.
“When Jack started training with us again, after what was a long lay off, I told him he’d definitely be getting some game time between now and the end (of the season) from me,” Heckingbottom, United’s caretaker manager, said. “His attitude had been brilliant all the way through and so had to work he’d actually been doing on the pitch. So it wasn’t a case of just bringing Jack in to see how he went. He deserved that start. He’d earned it the right way, with what he’d been putting in.”
As well as being an important moment in Jebbison’s career, United will hope their trip to Goodison Park proves a turning point for Robinson too. Signed by former manager Chris Wilder to provide cover and competition for Jack O’Connell, he initially struggled to master the challenges of United’s 3-5-2 system when the Liverpudlian succumbed to a knee complaint in September. But with his own absence exposing a weakness on the left hand of United’s rearguard, Robinson looked much more comfortable on the overlap against Carli Ancelottit’s men - darting forward to provide the cross Jebbison converted as he became the youngest player to score on their first PL start in the competition’s history.
Although Robinson’s return has come too late to change the course of United’s campaign - they head to Newcastle having been mathematically relegated a month ago - Heckingbottom said: “He showed what he can do and it’s good to have Jack back.”