Sheffield United: Manager makes a huge claim about Rhian Brewster and drops a hint about the former Liverpool striker's future at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic has described Rhian Brewster as “one of the biggest talents in English football” but believes the club’s record transfer signing needs to “push himself” in order to realise his potential.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against Derby County, which could see United stretch their unbeaten run in the Championship to five matches, Jokanovic also raised the possibility of permanently switching Brewster’s position after watching him struggle for goals since arriving in South Yorkshire.
The England under-21 international has scored just once - during a Carabao Cup tie with Carlisle - following last season’s £23.5m move from Liverpool.
Jokanovic’s assessment of Brewster’s situation - and suggestion he might not be best suited to playing a central attacking role - came in response to a question about the backing the youngster has received from United’s following in recent weeks as he struggles for form and confidence.
“Listen, I can not find a big difference between him and anyone else because I have the sensation, although maybe I am wrong, that they are supporting all of the team and even myself,” he told The Star. “They are supporting all of the players, all of the good players, and he (Brewster) is one of those.
“Rhian can be at the highest level. He needs to improve himself and take more steps forward, yes, because he shouldn’t be comfortable.
“We are talking about one of the biggest talents in English football, however. He needs to push himself to be at the highest level.
“We will try and help him to improve and give him what he needs to take those steps. But, and this is the same for everyone, really it is down to the individual. What happens, essentially, is down to them.”
With Billy Sharp on target three times in his last six outings and Oli McBurnie impressing Jokanovic during Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Southampton, Brewster could again be deployed in a deeper lying role after stepping in for the injured Sander Berge at Hull City six days ago.
Reflecting upon United’s performance at the MKM Stadium - and the role Brewster performed - Jokanovic said: “He must focus on the instructions we give him, which he is. I have used him in a different position recently. It could be a natural position for him, who knows?
“Is there a natural position for a player at 21? I don’t know. He could end-up where he is or being an excellent full-back, seriously. People don’t know.”
“What I do is that he needs to be able to open his mind and to trust himself,” Jokanovic added. “He needs to be fighting or everything, whether that be on the bench or on the pitch. That is so important.”
Berge pulled-out of the meeting with City during the warm-up and was excused from duty when Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side visited Bramall Lane on Tuesday, reaching the fourth round on penalties after being held to a 2-2 draw by United. Jokanovic confirmed the Norway international will be assessed again later this afternoon before a decision is taken on his involvement.