RR: Dan Jebbison, then. Is he any good?
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: I don’t want to build him up too much at this stage because he’s not even played 300 minutes of senior football in his career – however, what we have seen from him has been promising.
We were at a real low ebb when he came into the team, and he immediately impressed with a solid cameo off the bench and then a goal on his full debut.
For a 17-year-old in a desperately uncreative, goal-shy team, he acquitted himself brilliantly and was deservedly given a run of starts towards the end the season.
The Shoreham View: He’s a natural striker who looks absolutely class. He’s confident, and always works his socks off – so yeah, he’s pretty bloody good!
RR: Whilst he’s very young, he’s clearly highly rated – why do you think that is?
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: It’s a bit reductive but his workrate was excellent when he got in the team – perhaps you’d expect that from a youngster making their first appearances in the Premier League, but after last season we were taking nothing for granted.
Our U23 manager took over as caretaker of the first team following Chris Wilder’s departure, so he obviously had plenty of knowledge of Jebbison’s game. That said, we weren’t exactly handing out free debuts and “playing the kids” even with nothing at stake in the last few games, so it’s clear that Jebbison had gone the extra mile to earn a spot.
Probably the biggest compliment of his performances was that he was deservedly in the team over record signing Rhian Brewster.
The Shoreham View: Not many young strikers score on their Premier League debut for a relegated team that wasn’t creating many chances!
RR: Do you think he still needs to prove himself?
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: For sure, he’s right at the start of his career. He’s quite unusual in that we’ve consistently given youngsters minutes on loan at non-league and League Two sides before they even get close to the first team, whereas he went straight in and did well.
The Shoreham View: I think he needs game time in the first team – I don’t think he has anything to prove, as he’s still developing.
RR: His big career moment to date was a goal in the Premier League. Talk us through that moment, and the way he came into the team….
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: It was a lovely moment after a deeply unenjoyable season. He’d done well as a sub prior to this, but the goal on his full debut at Everton was heartwarming to say the least.
It was a surprise to even see him start and then there he was popping up in the box to finish off a cross after just a few minutes. He was very close to getting another too, and it was just an all-round excellent performance.
The Shoreham View: It was all a bit of a blur. He just did what strikers in our team weren’t doing – he found the space, and worked hard to get in the correct positions to get the goal.
RR: Sadly, Sheff Utd were relegated. Do you think loaning him out at this stage is a good thing, or would you have preferred him to be a part of your Championship squad this season?
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: I think a loan is the right thing. We’re overloaded with strikers at the moment and while he’d definitely be in the mix for a place in the match day squad, at 18 the best thing is for him to go and get consistent minutes elsewhere and keep developing.
The Shoreham View: To put it simply, I want Jebbison in or around the first team this season!
RR: What would you say his greatest strengths are as an athlete and a player?
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: I mentioned his work ethic already and I think that just gives him a great base to build on. He is still developing physically - I thought at times against Burnley he did look like an under 23s player, but he’s not the first player that Burnley have done that to. And even in that game, he showed flashes of his ability on the ball.
After the season we’d had it was just nice seeing someone look confident, and like he was enjoying the stage.
The Shoreham View: His greatest assets are his size, strength and surprising mobility as an athlete - as a player, he just knows where to be and what is required of him, and at a young age that’s always a great sign.
RR: What areas of his game need work?
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: It’s hard to say given that it’s early days for him. I’d say that I’m not really clear what kind of striker he is yet - is he a poacher, a target man, someone who can drop deep or wide? That is totally to be expected from someone just starting out.
I’ll be keeping a very interested eye on his development if he does indeed go out on loan, and what kind of role he’s used in.
The Shoreham View: I’ve not really seen any glaring weaknesses to comment on what he needs to do to improve.
RR: Ultimately, what would you say to anyone who isn’t sure about Sunderland signing Jebbison?
Ben Meakin, BladesPod: This is a kid who stood out above much more established, expensive forwards for us last season and quickly went from a youth team player who wasn’t on the radar of a lot of fans to someone we wanted to start every week.
His stock has risen very quickly in a short space of time, and while he’s still got a way to go, he’s already shown that the effort will be there to keep working.
The Shoreham View: I’d say to anyone who wasn’t sure on Jebbo, that I can’t find a single Blades fan that wants him to leave on loan.