Sheffield United: How Billy Sharp has been helping - and hindering - the next generation

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp has continued to lead by example during his time out through injury, with manager Paul Heckingbottom revealing the club’s leading goalscorer has reminded teenagers Will Osula and Daniel Jebbison what it takes to become a regular first team player.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 4:15 pm

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But, providing a fascinating insight into Sharp’s mentality, Heckingbottom admitted the 36-year-old is still driven to ensure the two young strikers are forced to put their ambitions on hold for the foreseeable future by denying them a place in his starting eleven.

“In terms of advice, with Will and Daniel it’s been more behind the scenes with Bill really,” Heckingbottom told The Star, confirming Sharp could return to face Cardiff City this weekend. “But, and he’ll want this out there, Billy is still motivated to play.

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Will Osula of Sheffield United (L) celebrates a goal for the club's development squad: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

“Bill wants to play ahead of them. He won’t give up his place without a fight. It’s those habits, watching them and noting them, that will teach Will and Jebbo so much. Even just doing that will be invaluable for them. That’s how, particularly while he’s been out, Billy has really helped them.”

Having scored only three goals in their five outings since Sharp damaged a hamstring, compared to the eight they netted during the quintet before his set-back, being able to select the most prolific striker at his disposal will be a major boost for United as they attempt to retain a top six place.

Iliman Ndiaye and Morgan Gibbs-White, on target during Easter Monday’s draw with Bristol City, started at Ashton Gate while Osula was introduced from the bench. With Oli McBurnie being diagnosed with a fractured foot, the Denmark youth international was making only the third senior appearance of his career at a critical point in United’s season. If he takes part in the meeting with Steve Morison’s side, Sharp will have accumulated 648; finding the back of the net 264 times in the process.

“Regarding the overall contribution Bill makes to these lads, other than giving them instructions and advice during matches of course, it’s that example he sets,” said Heckingbottom. “He’s always speaking and he’s always pushing.”

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp could return to face Cardiff City: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Daniel Jebbison has featured for Sheffield United's first team this season: Andrew Yates / Sportimage