Sheffield United caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom insists record-breaking goalscorer Daniel Jebbison deserves his opportunity in the team and the fact he is not carrying the baggage of a relegation season can only benefit him.
The Canadian-born forward, aged 17 years and 309 days, became the Premier League’s youngest scorer on his full debut with an early winner at Everton.
It was only the Blades’ second away win of the season and sixth overall, but Jebbison is free from the burden of that record, with his only other appearance being 25 minutes the previous weekend.
It was his form for the Under-23s this season which persuaded Heckingbottom to give him a chance and not just a token gesture.
“‘Jebbo’ has deserved his time on the pitch. We’ve not scored goals this season. It has been something which has been hard to come by for the team,” he said.
“He knows his role in the team and what we want from him, so from that point it was an easy decision – and he’s been scoring goals all season and doesn’t have the same baggage.
“He was put in on merit, it wasn’t me thinking ‘Do you know what, let’s not win this game, let’s put a young lad in and give him a chance’.
“The teams are picked to try to win and that’s a compliment to Jebbo.
“If we hadn’t seen him doing it and executing it over the season he wouldn’t have got a game.
“You know there are things you want to do better and he’s by no means the finished article, but the fact we know all that about him made it a comfortable decision to make to put him in.”
While the England Under-18 international warranted his selection, Heckingbottom insists some young players may have to wait for their chance.
“He will get even better athletically over the next two years so physically he can cope with it, but we have other young players who aren’t there yet physically,” he added.
“There are some players who are ready physically but not emotionally and it would be too much of a step up.
“Each one of them is different and they will be at that level at different moments in time but it doesn’t mean they can’t get there.”