The benefits to Sheffield United of striker's World Cup push are made clear
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Jebbison has travelled to the FIFA under-20 World Cup with England, who contest their first match of the tournament against Tunisia tonight. Ian Foster’s squad, which has been ravaged by a string of withdrawals, then face Uruguay on Thursday before meeting Iraq this weekend.
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But even before a number of clubs prevented those on their payroll from making the trip to Argentina, which has enhanced Jebbison’s chances of being handed a prominent role in the Young Lions’ plans, Heckingbottom said: “Playing for your country, it doesn’t get any bigger. You always see the benefits when they come back, because of the standards they have to be able to set and the standard of the competition.”
“There’s different ways to play and they come up against other styles, other formations and tactics that they might not here,” he added. “They are there to do a job, that’s the most important thing, for whoever they are representing. But, like I say, we see the change as well. The knowledge they get, the understanding, if you use it properly then it can’t fail to make you better. How can it not, seriously?”
Jebbison, aged 19, is among a clutch of homegrown youngsters Heckingbottom hopes will take the next step in their careers when United, who gained automatic promotion from the Championship last season, make their return to the Premier League. With little to spend in the transfer market, especially by top-flight standards, the likes of Jebbison, Will Osula, Andre Brooks and Oliver Arblaster could enable Heckingbottom to focus his resources on strengthening key areas of his side rather than spreading himself too thinly.
Selected to spearhead United’s attack during last month’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, even though joint-leading goalscorer Oli McBurnie was available for the match, Jebbison is clearly highly rated behind the scenes at Bramall Lane. But he still has to make improvements to his game in order to become a permanent fixture in the team Heckingbottom hopes can establish itself at the highest level.
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“For me, having the lads going away, it can only be a positive,” said Heckingbottom. “It helps us here, as well as them. The more that are involved in the international games, for their countries, then first off it shows that we’ve got good players. That is good all the way down the line, both for their confidence and also when we look to bring people in. And then, like I say, I think it makes them even better as well because of the knowledge and experience they acquire.”
Jebbison has already demonstrated his PL potential, becoming the youngest player to score on their full debut in the competition during a win over Everton two years ago. Since then he has also completed a spell on loan with Burton Albion, where he was deliberately placed to work under former Holland, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid marksman Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink, who was in charge there at the time.
“Keep on learning and keep on improving,” Heckingbottom said. “That goes for all of us.”