Sheffield United: 'Billy Sharp can go on terrorising defences for as long as he wants' insists Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom

Billy Sharp can go on terrorising Championship defences “for as long as he wants” according to Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom, after paying tribute to the veteran centre-forward’s intelligence and professionalism.

Monday, 6th December 2021, 5:00 am

Despite approaching his 36th birthday, Sharp’s powers are showing no signs of waning after he was on target for the seventh time this season during the 3-2 win at Cardiff City.

The second-half strike edged him closer to equalling David Nugent’s record for the most goals scored in the competition since it was rebranded and Heckingbottom told The Star: “I wouldn’t bet that Billy is going to slow down anytime soon. In fact, I’d never bet against him - ever.

“His professionalism is excellent. He takes everything he does really seriously, wants to get the maximum out of everything he does, which you often see players do in their twilight years. They look for every single little advantage.

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Cardiff, Wales, 4th December 2021. Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd celebrates scoring the second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. Picture credit should read: Ashley Crowden / Sportimage

“How long he has got is entirely up to him. That’s the way I see it, from what I’m witnessing, anyway.”

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After being appointed as Slavisa Jokanovic’s successor 72 hours before last weekend’s victory over Bristol City, Sharp’s close range finish helped Heckingbottom secure another maximum point haul in the Welsh capital.

Despite falling behind before the interval, Morgan Gibbs-White’s superb effort dragged United level after City had been reduced to 10 men following Sean Morrison’s sending-off. David McGoldrick pounced after Sharp edged United in front although Steve Morison’s side reduced the deficit late on.

“Billy’s knowledge is a huge help to us,” said Heckingbottom, who enjoyed a spell in interim charge of United last term. “One of the things I really discovered about him back then is just how reliable he is when you don’t have the ball as well - with that understanding, desire and work rate.”

"He’s definitely an example for people to follow, especially the youngsters,” Heckingbottom added. “Not only he is obviously an exceptional footballer, his record tells you that, but it’s the way he handles himself in the week and away from the pitch as well. He’s got that determination to get the very best from himself with everything he oes.”