Sheffield United teenager told what he must do to become a true Premier League striker
and live on Freeview channel 276
Speaking ahead of Monday’s visit to Birmingham City, United’s final match of a season which saw them win promotion from the Championship with three games to spare, Paul Heckingbottom dissected Jebbison’s performance during last night’s defeat by Huddersfield Town.
Partnering Iliman Ndiaye in attack, the England under-20 international impressed with his work in open play both on and off the ball. But during a dominant first-half performance from United, he missed three chances to open the scoring before Danny Ward’s superb finish after the interval saw Neil Warnock’s side secure their second tier status. The opening two of those, Heckingbottom conceded, Jebbison will have been disappointed not to take.
“That is the difference,” the United manager said. “That is what is going to determine what level you play at. The first one, although I’ll have to look back at them properly, was probably the easiest although perhaps it was the second. But, like I say, that is the difference.”
Possessing notoriously exacting standards - Ndiaye, despite being one of the most exciting young talents in English football, has frequently been challenged to do more - Heckingbottom remains convinced that Jebbison can trouble the country’s best defenders by using his physical stature and pace. But with opportunities to score likely to be at a premium next term, something United were reminded of when Ndiaye saw an early effort saved during last month’s 3-0 loss to Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley Stadium, coaching staff are expected to spend the summer working on Jebbison’s finishing.
With captain Billy Sharp one goal away from reaching 250 in the league, United could start the 37-year-old in the Midlands. Like Jebbison, Sharp is about to enter the final month of his contract although, unlike the Canadian-born marksman, he is not thought to be subject to a 12 month extension clause loaded in United’s favour.
Jebbision became the youngest player to score on his full PL debut when he scored the only goal of the contest during United’s win over Everton 24 months ago. Heckingbottom was in caretaker charge at the time before later being handed the job on a permanent basis following Slavisa Jokanovic’s departure.
“We’ve never wavered in our belief about what Jebbo can do,” said Heckingbottom, whose head of player development Jack Lester recently reminded it is important to remember the youngster’s age. “I wouldn’t like to have played against him, with that power and speed he’s got and he’ll learn to make even better use of that as he becomes more experienced. That’s normal.”
“We drive everyone on,” Heckingbottom added. “We all want to improve and get better, including ourselves as staff. That’s got to be part of who you are because we know the standards that we are going to have to set going forward if we want to do what we want to do.”