Sheffield United defender, Rhys Norrington-Davies, has probably enjoyed more football than he might have expected at Bramall Lane this season.
Since returning from his successful loan spells with Luton and Stoke, Norrington-Davies has found himself thrust into the action under Paul Heckingbottom. The 22-year-old Welshman has started seven of the last nine, as Enda Stevens continues to struggle with injury and Ben Osborn also sits on the side line. All in all, Norrington-Davies has played 18 times this season, with a solitary assist – and a disallowed goal against Blackburn – to show.
The left-footer has done ok in the main. Like with most younger players, there are big areas for improvement, especially in the final third. But overall, Norrington-Davies has adapted well and in recent weeks has seemed to have enjoyed himself down that left flank.
However, this Friday’s Sheffield United clash with Nottingham Forest is a true test of his abilities. Indeed, it could be a career-defining appearance for Norrington-Davies as he prepares to face the exciting pair of Djed Spence and Brennan Johnson.
Spence And Johnson Two Of The Championship’s Very Best
Things won’t get much trickier for Rhys Norrington-Davies than when Forest arrive. Steve Cooper is likely to deploy both Spence and Johnson down the right-hand side. It will be the ultimate test for the Blades full-back.
Spence – on loan from Middlesbrough – is being courted all around Europe. Liverpool, Tottenham and even Borussia Dortmund are all said to be keen on him. Two goals and three assists this season, as well as giving Arsenal the run-around in the cup, all back up Spence’s talent. Indeed, Gabi Martinelli has recently said Spence was one of the best defenders he’d faced all season.
“The guy from Nottingham Forest, Djed Spence, who I played against in the FA Cup,” he told The Athletic. “He is very strong, good on the ball, calm and quick. I was surprised; he is a really good player.”
Ahead of Spence will be Brennan Johnson. Like Spence, he has been linked with the Premier League, with Leeds and Newcastle among those ready to pay around £20m for him. The 20-year-old has ten goals and five assists this term and is rapid with and without the ball. Certainly, a player for all the Blades players to be wary of.
Norrington-Davies Can Cement Left Wing-Back Spot If He Performs
For a long time, many at Sheffield United – including us on this website – have seen Enda Stevens as the number one choice at left wing-back. The Irishman has been outstanding for seasons now, although he has been nowhere near his best for around 18 months now.
Norrington-Davies, then, could really strengthen his case for being first-choice on Friday evening. Of course, he’ll need the help of Jack Robinson or Ben Davies behind him, while the inside left midfield option of either John Fleck or Conor Hourihane will also be vital.
But if the Welshman can nullify the pair of Spence and Johnson and in doing so provide his own threat going forward, then it could be a career-defining night for ‘RND’. Certainly, us Blades fans hope he is on top of his game.
Keeping Johnson and Spence quiet pretty much shows you can do it against anyone in this division. Norrington-Davies, then, must seize his moment under the lights at Bramall Lane and show us all he is the future down the left.
Sheffield United face Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane on Friday evening. Kick-off is 19:45.