Sheffield United: What we learned from Burton Albion, as Crystal Palace youngster features on trial

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Daniel Jebbison scored twice before Enda Stevens wrote his name onto the scoresheet during Sheffield United’s win over Burton Albion.
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The Star’s James Shield analyses some of the key points to arise from a game, which saw Crystal Palace’s Sean Robertson feature for the visitors on trial.

The Team: Paul Heckingbottom is a manager who likes to keep his cards close, very close in fact, to his chest. With United set to conclude their programme of summer friendlies at Barnsley this afternoon, last night’s fixture should have provided some clues about which players will start against Watford on August 1st. It didn’t. Instead, determined to ensure as many of his frontline names as possible complete 90 minutes before next Monday’s visit to Vicarage Road, Heckingbottom named another mix and match starting eleven for the meeting with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side.

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Whichever member of staff Rob Edwards, Heckingbottom’s counterpart in Hertfordshire, tasked with compiling a scouting report will have returned home none the wiser.

The Difference-Makers: Jebbison scored twice before the interval, producing two smart finishes to put United in control before Stevens stretched their lead from 30 yards out during a one-sided second-half.

Jebbison spent the first half of last season on loan at Albion, with United keen for him to continue learning his trade under Hasselbaink. The Dutchman, previously of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid among others, was one of the finest marksmen of his generation. Part of him will have been delighted to see Jebbison putting the knowledge he passed on to good use. But Hasselbaink probably also felt like throttling him when the two teams made their way off the pitch at the break.

The Trialist: Having decided it was unfair to ask George Broadbent to continue deputising in defence, and with George Baldock being saved for Barnsley, United invited Roberston to take part against Albion. The youngster, from Crystal Palace, acquitted himself well enough but it remains to be seen if Heckingbottom will ask him to stick around.

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Daniel Jebbison (right) impressed for Sheffield United at Burton AlbionDaniel Jebbison (right) impressed for Sheffield United at Burton Albion
Daniel Jebbison (right) impressed for Sheffield United at Burton Albion

Refusing to identify him on their team sheet - which, rather than ensuring he went largely under the radar, probably had the opposite effect - United were clearly keen not to make much of a fuss about Robertson’s presence.

But they could be tempted to take a second look at the 21-year-old’s services following his solid display.

Sound without the ball, Robertson whipped some dangerous crosses into Albion’s box when he was in possession. One, after Jebbison had gone close at the near post, nearly found Will Osula lurking at the other. Robertson also provided the centre Jebbison should have converted after 20 minutes.

The Prodigal Son: United supporters clearly want to see Ismaila Coulibaly do well. One tidy but unspectacular piece of play during the opening exchanges, which saw him rob an opponents of possession and then recycle the ball, earned him a warm round of applause from the visiting fans.

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Sheffield United youngster Oliver Arblaster of: Simon Bellis / SportimageSheffield United youngster Oliver Arblaster of: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Sheffield United youngster Oliver Arblaster of: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Not as warm as the one Jebbison received from their counterparts at the opposite end of the ground when his name was read out before kick-off. But still warm nonetheless.

After spending the first two years of his career with United on loan at their sister club Beerschot, interest in Coulibaly has inevitably soared since it was confirmed he was being recalled to England.

Despite still being yet to make his competitive debut for United, plenty of legends have built up around the Malian midfielder.

The spotlight he is working under, the weight of expectation being placed on his shoulders by those outside of the dressing room, is probably a shade unfair. But football is a brutal, unforgiving business and Coulibaly needs to add greater cutting edge to his game on a consistent basis in order to catch Heckingbottom’s eye. Something he very nearly did just after Jebbison’s opener, when he forced an excellent save from Garratt.

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Burton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: Alex Davidson/Getty ImagesBurton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: Alex Davidson/Getty Images
Burton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

The Gamble: With Adam Davies set to miss the beginning of the season, and with the board keen to keep a tight rein on spending, United’s coaching staff have decided against drafting in cover and competition for Wes Foderingham on emergency loan.

For the time being at least, Jordan Amissah will be asked to provide back up to the former Rangers goalkeeper on the bench. Yes, it’s a gamble with the young German yet to make a senior appearance for United. But he clearly isn’t short of self belief, barking orders to experienced defenders such as Chris Basham and Jack Robinson. A save to deny Davis Keillor-Dunn, towards the end of the first-half, was even more impressive.

The Next Big Thing: Oliver Arblaster is probably the big winner at United this summer, forcing his way into Heckingbottom’s thinking after producing some accomplished performances both on the pitch and during training at the Randox Health Academy.

Better known for his ability to manipulate the ball, the 18-year-old proved here that he can monster opponents too. Keillor-Dunn was left sprawled in a heap inside the centre circle after being caught late by Arblaster early on. Yes, it was a foul. But one Heckingbottom, as he considers using him next term, will have been pleased to see given away.

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The Pick-Me-Up: Stevens has struggled to make much of an impact going forward during his most recent appearances. Once among the most enterprising wing-backs in English football, the Republic of Ireland international will therefore have been delighted to write his name on the scoresheet here, thrashing a low shot beyond Garratt from long distance. It will do his confidence the world of good.

Sheffield United: Amissah, Robertson (Starbuck 77), Stevens, Basham, Norwood, Robinson, Coulibaly (Peck 86), Arblaster (Broadbent 70), Osula (Lankshear 88), Norrington-Davies, Jebbison.

Jordan Amissah started in goal at the Pirelli Stadium: Simon Bellis / SportimageJordan Amissah started in goal at the Pirelli Stadium: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Jordan Amissah started in goal at the Pirelli Stadium: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Not used: Wharton, Sachdev, Gaxha, Gomis, Brooks.