Sheffield United’s promotion push has stalled a touch in the last month or so with Billy Sharp out of the side through injury.
Daniel Jebbison, who was recalled in January after an impressive loan at Burton Albion, has been unable to fill that void and was not in the matchday squad in the Blades’ 1-1 draw with Bristol City on Monday.
William Osula was preferred to Jebbison, and came on to make his third Championship appearance of the season in the second half.
Both strikers are only 18 years old and Paul Heckingbottom explained why he opted for Osula over Jebbison at Ashton Gate when he spoke to the Sheffield Star.
He said: “When we used him in the Premier League, Jebbo (Jebbison) had a specific role and we were playing roles who offered up a lot more space.
“It’s all about learning, but I put Will in there on merit.”
“They’re battling it out.
“Will has been pushing and pushing and I felt he deserved his opportunity today.
“For all the young players, this is the first team now and they’ve got to have an impact and help the team produce results when they are involved.
“Will held the ball up a couple of times and brings an energy.
“You could see his footwork to get a shot off from the edge of the box, and we want to see more of that.
“There was a feeling of freedom for Jebbo last season.
“Now there is more pressure.
“There is an expectation to create and score, when there is less space on offer.
“He loves the space, to stretch his legs and get in behind.
“There is still so much for them both to learn.”
It is an exciting time to be in the youth ranks at Sheffield United, Heckingbottom is providing a pathway to the first team that has been endorsed from the top of the club, Osula and Jebbison will have a role to play in the remainder of the season, whether Sharp returns or not.
Middlesbrough and Millwall are still in the mix to snatch sixth spot off of the Blades, with Huddersfield Town, Luton Town and Nottingham Forest sitting fairly pretty directly above Heckingbottom’s men.
The Lions are on the charge where Boro have fallen away a touch, however the Blades cannot take any chances, after picking up just one point from a possible six over the bank holiday weekend.
The Blades have worked very hard to get into this position since Heckingbottom replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in the dugout, and there is plenty of experience in the squad to ensure the pressure does not get the better of them heading into their final three fixtures.