Why the fitness of Sheffield United goal hero Daniel Jebbison doesn’t worry Paul Heckingbottom

Daniel Jebbison will be a very lucky boy if the rest of his football career goes as well as his first senior start, but whatever other problems he has to deal with, Sheffield United interim manager Paul Heckingbottom does not think fitness will be one.

FIT AND HUNGRY: Sheffield United's Daniel Jebbison. Picture: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Jebbison played the full 90 minutes of his first Premier League start, scoring against Everton the week after making it onto the pitch for the first time in senior football, as a substitute at home to Crystal Palace.

Heckingbottom must now decide whether to start the 17-year-old at Newcastle United tomorrow – and again at home to Burnley in the final match of the season on Sunday. Fitness concerns will not come into it.

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“He’s been worked hard,” said Heckingbottom. “One thing that’s certainly happened with the boys in the academy is they’ve been exposed to some real tough training.

TOP MAN: Sheffield United's Daniel Jebbison celebrates after scoring at Goodison Park. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

“We’ll just do it (decide if he should play) with the same care and attention we do with any player. If we think they’re flagging or susceptible to injury we might have to consider something different but in terms of him being physically capable to play, there’s no problem.

“You’ve seen the size of Jebbo, he’s 6ft 3in, 6ft 4in and athletically very good but he’ll get even better because he’s got a lot of development to go.

“We’ve got other young players who aren’t there yet physically. We’ve got other young players who are physically ready but not quite there emotionally yet, maybe it’s a bit too much of a step up.

“Each one of them’s different and they’ll be at that level at different moments but it doesn’t mean they can’t get there.”

There will, though, be no freebies, even with injuries eating into the Blades squad.

“Jebbo’s deserved his time on the pitch,” the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager stressed. “We’ve not scored goals this season and it’s been hard to come by for the forwards.

“He knows his role in the team and he’s been scoring goals He’s not got the same baggage.

“He’s put in on merit. It wasn’t me thinking, ‘Let’s not win this game, let’s put a young lad in.’”

Meanwhile, striker Oli McBurnie has admitted defeat in his race to make Scotland’s European Championships squad. He fractured a metatarsal against Arsenal in mid-April.

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