Oliver Norwood receives a message from new Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic

Oliver Norwood has been told he will be a “big player” for Sheffield United next season, after new manager Slavisa Jokanovic paid tribute to the midfielder’s qualities.

By James Shield
Friday, 28th May 2021, 4:00 pm

The Serb, who worked with Norwood at Fulham when they won promotion from the Championship three years ago, referenced the former Northern Ireland international’s personal and professional qualities during his first interview since being confirmed as Chris Wilder’s successor.

“Oliver, I now personally,” Jokanovic said. “There are others I know, but without having had the chance to get to know them personally yet.

“Oliver is a great man and a perfect professional. He has quality and I am sure he will be an important player in the future for us and the team.”

Jokanovic’s words will provide Norwood with reassurance about his position at Bramall Lane, having suffered a drop in form during the second-half of the season as United were relegated from the Premier League; particularly as they prepare to overhaul their options in the centre of the pitch during the forthcoming transfer window.

With Sander Berge expected to move on and John Lundstram declining numerous invitations to extend a contract which is about to expire, Jokanovic is certain to draft in reinforcements before August’s return to action.

An injection of creativity, and possibly physicality, seems inevitable with candidates also being required to demonstrate an eye for goal before seeing their names added to the former Yugoslavia and Chelsea midfielder’s shortlist.

However Norwood, a metronomic presence not only during United's climb out of the second tier but also their march to a ninth placed finish the season before last, appears set to be given plenty of opportunities to impress the new regime.

Oliver Norwood (right) has worked with Slavisa Jokanovic before: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Crucially, Jokanovic also appears willing to consider working within the same basic framework employed by his predecessor - albeit with one or two subtle tweaks - before taking a longer term view on the best way to proceed.

“A lot of these players, they have played together a long time,” he continued, during an interview with United’s official website. “We don’t want to confuse people by doing too much, too soon. But we shall see.”