New Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom hopes Rhian Brewster will respond well to being pushed to the maximum after seeing the 21-year-old score the first goal of his permanent tenure at the club, speaking to The Star.
The England youth international swivelled well in the box from 15 yards out and fired past Daniel Bentley to put the Blades 1-0 up against Bristol City yesterday, setting the South Yorkshire outfit on course for a vital win after a poor start to the season for both him and his team.
His 40th-minute strike against Nigel Pearson’s men was only his second league goal of the season and his third for the club in total, a disappointing return for the ex-Liverpool man who has made 42 competitive appearances for the club since his £23.5m move from Anfield last October.
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However, his form has vastly improved recently, managing to get himself on the scoresheet against Blackburn Rovers just before the previous international break and looked bright up top against Reading in midweek before scoring against yesterday lunchtime.
Under new management, having been left out of the matchday squad completely on three separate occasions last month by old boss Slavisa Jokanovic after struggling to get into form, he will be hoping to turn his career around at Bramall Lane having worked with current manager Heckingbottom before in the latter stages of last season.
The 44-year-old is one of Brewster’s biggest fans, starting him ahead of club captain Billy Sharp and saying in his post-match press conference that everyone at the club is behind the striker in his quest to be a success in South Yorkshire.
He said to the Sheffield Star: “He’s (Brewster) a great kid to be around and I really like him.
“He knows he’s going to be pushed and we hope he’s going to respond in the right way.
“I’ve worked with Rhian a bit before and everyone here wants him to do well. He’s really popular and everyone is willing him on.”
Brewster requires two key things to become a big success at his current side: confidence and first-team opportunities.
It was clear that ex-boss Jokanovic wasn’t going to get the very best out of the 21-year-old by playing him on the wing, but had little choice but to play him there due to the amount of competition there was and still is in the forward department.
With his goal yesterday, he has probably done more than enough to keep his spot ahead of their trip to Cardiff City at the weekend, but the presence of Billy Sharp, Lys Mousset, Oliver McBurnie and others when all are fully fit shows he won’t be one of the first names on the teamsheet unless he sustains his current form.
Although that could be detrimental pressure to the forward, it may also work the other way and maximise the Three Lions youth international’s performance levels, allowing him to fulfil the potential he had at Liverpool.
His goal against the Robins needs to be a sign of things to come from him under Heckingbottom as well, because his arrival won’t be viewed as a success in the history books if he can’t remain consistent, especially considering the sizeable eight-figure fee the Blades paid to lure him away from Merseyside.