Joe Cole says Rhian Brewster “owes” Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder.
Brewster became the club’s record transfer last summer when he joined from Liverpool in a deal worth £23m.
Yet in 21 appearances in all competitions since, the striker has failed to score for the Blades.
Brewster’s most recent outing was Wednesday night’s 1-0 Premier League victory over Aston Villa.
The 20-year-old started the game and did test Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez from distance. But in the 60th minute Brewster was replaced by Oli Burke still without a goal to his name.
“He needs to step up,” Cole said as a pundit on BT Sport, who covered the game. “He owes the manager. They bought him for big money.
“It might not be the right time. But get him playing, get his confidence up and build him up, because he’s clearly a talented player and he owes the manager one.”
Is Joe Cole right?
It is perhaps a little harsh to judge Brewster’s commitment to United based on the number of goals he’s scored.
As a forward, unfortunately for him it’s inevitable. Plus, Brewster’s transfer fee puts more pressure on him.
Yet he is still a young player, who had no top flight experience prior to this season.
Brewster is also playing for the division’s lowest scorers, so opportunities to hit the back of the net are limited.
The England Under-21 international’s strike partner against Villa, David McGoldrick, has no doubt about the youngster’s talent.
McGoldrick scored the winner himself at Bramall Lane and is acting as something of a mentor to Brewster.
“I spoke to him before the game and I said, ‘all I want you to do is work hard, be a handful, do the simple things’. And he did it. He worked hard, he listened,” the 33-year-old told BBC Radio Sheffield.
“The goals will come. We’re bottom of the league. He’s not going to get five chances a game – one-on-ones, tap-ins.
“It’s going to be hard, but he’ll get one off his backside and he’s going to go on a roll.
“He’s a young boy coming into the tough situation that we’re in. If he was here last season he’d probably be up and running.”