The Sheffield United manager, whose squad are spending this week in Portugal ahead of Friday’s friendly against Casa Pia, also confessed that loans from the Premier League might form the core of his business.
Tommy Doyle, the Manchester City youngster Heckingbottom will officially present during the first of six warm-up fixtures United are scheduled to play, fits the profile so perfectly the 44-year-old could easily have mentioned him by name.
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Capped six times by England at under-21 level, Doyle possesses talent, attitude and knowledge in abundance, having not only impressed during a placement with Cardiff City last term but also Bundesliga 2 side Hamburg.
Despite being heartened by the midfielder’s determination to feature for City next season - and indicating he might one day be equipped to do so by recently awarding him a new contract - Pep Guardiola believes Doyle requires another 10 months of regular first team football before being considered for selection at the Etihad Stadium.
United, where he will be required to perform under pressure as Heckingbottom’s men chase a return to the Premier League, is viewed by the Catalan as the ideal destination for one of the jewels of City’s development programme to develop the resilient mind-set necessary to forge a career at the pinnacle of the game.
A move to South Yorkshire suits both City and Doyle, who scored three times in 14 appearances for Cardiff. But Doyle suits United too, which is why the agreement The Star revealed was being brokered over the weekend makes perfect sense for all three parties involved.
After suffering an agonising defeat on penalties in the Championship play-offs two months ago, Heckingbottom knows his team will be under pressure to deliver when they return to competitive action. Boasting the highest average attendance in the division, it takes a special kind of character to flourish at United. Crucially, Heckingbottom knows Doyle has been stress-tested. Not only in the Welsh capital but also in Germany, where Hamburg’s head coach Tim Walter has spoken openly about the importance of being “brave” on the ball and being able to make decisions. Three of Doyle’s seven outings for Hamburg came in high-profile fixtures, against Karlsruhe, Nuremberg and Dusseldorf.
Together with his recruitment experts Paul Mitchell and Jared Dublin, Heckingbottom will have placed great emphasis on Doyle’s versatility when he was first touted as a potential acquisition. Accomplished at set-pieces, Doyle is also strong with both feet and, profiting from the training sessions he has taken part in under Guardiola, constantly makes himself available to receive possession. Although not strong in the air, he has also demonstrated an aptitude for dictating both the tempo and direction of play and can operate in several different positions. With Heckingbottom confessing he plans to operate with “smaller numbers” moving forward, that will be invaluable.
Aged 20, Doyle is steeped in City history with his grandfathers both representing the club during the Sixties and Seventies.