Sheffield united striker plays his part in a mature World Cup win
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Despite travelling to the host nation Argentina with a severely depleted squad following a spate of withdrawals, the Young Lions took their first step towards lifting a trophy they last won six years ago thanks to Dane Scarlett’s first-half header.
Jebbison replaced the Tottenham Hotspur striker during the closing stages of the contest and was among those to earn praise from Foster afterwards.
“We controlled the game from start to finish,” he said. “It is true we could have been a bit more ruthless, but they boys were a little nervous and that’s normal for the first game. There was a lot of anticipation going into this tournament.”
Jebbison was introduced as a substitute by Foster at a critical stage of the tie, as the Africans began to scramble for an equaliser. The teenager, who helped United win automatic promotion from the Championship last term and also appeared in their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley, helped keep them at bay and will be hoping for a more prominent role when England complete their group schedule with matches against Uruguay and Iraq. The first of those, against the South Americans, takes place on Thursday. Like the meeting with Tunisia, those fixtures are also being staged at the Estadio Unico Diego Armanda Maradona in the city of La Plata. The 53,000 seater arena was once considered the finest stadium in the country and regularly stages fixtures involving both Estudiantes and Gimnasia.
Jebbison made 19 appearances for United last term, scoring twice in the process. Had Paul Heckingbottom's men not finished second in the table, then he could also have been forced to miss a tournament which clashes with the English Football League play-offs and the end of the present Premier League campaign. However, in a display of commitment, Jebbison used an interview with The Star soon after Christmas to reveal his desire to represent his country. Aged 19, he also qualifies for Canada with the North Americans likely to make an approach to try and make him switch allegiance if a full England cap does not eventually prove forthcoming.
“I’m just proud to play for England,” Jebbison said at the time. “That’s what I’m thinking about, because I’m extremely proud to do it. And in order to do that, first I need to impress right here with us.”
Insisting those involved will benefit from their experiences in a country which agreed to organise the competition when Indonesia was stripped of its hosting rights following protests about Israel’s involvement, Foster said: “We have had to work incredibly hard. We’ve had discussions with club owners, directors of football, head coaches, academy directors, parents, agents and the players to get this over the line.”
“Ultimately,” he added, “What we want is to give the young players the best opportunity…because this is a once in a lifetime competition for them.”