Jack Rodwell Watch: Low-key Sheffield United debut for the England international - but early signs are so far, so good for ex-Sunderland man

It was solid rather than spectacular, as debuts go, but Jack Rodwell certainly showed enough during his cameo against AFC Fylde in the FA Cup to suggest that Sheffield United have made a very shrewd signing indeed.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 12:28 pm

It was a fairly low-key start for a fairly high-profile player, who cost Manchester City and Sunderland £15m and £10m respectively and represented his country, before his career changed paths and he ended up trialing for his future over the summer.

A spell at Roma came to nothing before he arrived at Shirecliffe, and United's coaching staff worked hard with him in the video analysis room after he signed to get him up to speed with the way the Blades play. It's still early days but, judging by his performance in victory over AFC Fylde, the signs look good.

Wilder insisted after the game that Rodwell has signed for the Premier League Blades as a midfielder first and foremost who can play at centre-half but it was at the back that he started against Fylde and where, given United's strength in the middle of the park, he may yet prosper.

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Jack Rodwell on his Blades debut (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Jack Rodwell on his Blades debut (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Those hours in the video room certainly looked to have paid off early on as Rodwell slotted seamlessly into the position Chris Basham has made his own, in his first game since April.

He certainly wasn't afraid to pull the trigger on his debut - although a volleyed effort he took on just before the half-hour mark threatened the scoreboard more than the Fylde goal - and was confident enough to let fly on his weaker left foot on the stroke of half-time, after shifting the ball inside.

At the other end of the field, Rodwell showed his defensive instincts too when he intelligently cut out a cross which looked like Jordan Williams would easily head home, and appeared to tweak something in his knee area when throwing himself in the way of a Fylde effort as they pushed to get back in the game.

Given his lack of game time - and Basham's place on the bench - it seemed probable that Rodwell's substitution was pre-planned, but he was certainly moving gingerly moments before his number was held up on the board.

He departed to a good ovation from the Blades fans and for them, United and Rodwell himself, it's a case of so far, so good.