What Sheffield United boss said about Rhys Norrington-Davies amid transfer links with Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, admits he has enjoyed watching defender Rhys Norrington-Davies’ progression over the last 12 months after the World Cup-bound defender was linked with a Premier League transfer.
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The 23-year-old has seen his hopes of making Robert Page’s squad for this winter’s World Cup boosted by an impressive season for the Blades so far, cementing his place in Heckingbottom’s side down the left flank.

That progress has reportedly caught the eye elsewhere, with online reports suggesting the top-flight trio of Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth are keeping tabs on the left-sided defender.

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Norrington-Davies is under contract at Bramall Lane until at least the summer of 2024 and boss Heckingbottom told The Star: “He’s been great, Rhys.

“It's been good working with him and watching him change over the last 12 months, really. He's changed a lot. Not just on the pitch, but off it as well.

“How he trains and his understanding of what his attributes are. What's going to make him look the best possible player. He's getting what he's about, so it's been good watching that.”

Paul Heckingbottom, manager of Sheffield United checks on Rhys Norrington-Davies: David Klein / SportimagePaul Heckingbottom, manager of Sheffield United checks on Rhys Norrington-Davies: David Klein / Sportimage
Paul Heckingbottom, manager of Sheffield United checks on Rhys Norrington-Davies: David Klein / Sportimage

Heckingbottom and his coaching staff have worked wonders on Norrington-Davies, coaxing out a more aggressive attacking side of his game that wasn’t seen previously. The defender has also impressed playing slightly out of position at left centre-half this season; a versatility he hopes will earn him a fairy-tale appearance at the World Cup later this year.

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Asked what prompted the turnaround in Norrington-Davies’ fortunes, Heckingbottom insisted: “Lots of things. Understanding what he's better at than everyone else, what his stand-out qualities are. Don't hide them, go and show them.

“Constantly working on things he wants to improve on. But to do that, you've got to train properly. And he does that.

“In the first training session, he was one I had to dig out a little bit because he wasn’t working hard enough.

“But from that moment he's done everything to the best of his ability. And by taking risks and making mistakes, you get better and better and better. So, it's been enjoyable and good to watch.”