Stoke City v Sheffield United: Playing time scenarios crucial to Rhys Norrington-Davies development

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The 22-year-old Sheffield United academy graduate is hoping to make his 20th league start of the season at Stoke City this afternoon, but his debut for the Blades in August only came after he had over 100 loan appearances behind him.

Now he’s an established Championship player giving Enda Stevens a run for his money and is part of a Wales side a play-off final away from their first World Cup since 1958.

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Norrington-Davies knows the debt he owes to the clubs that have helped him along the way – Barrow, Rochdale, Luton Town and a final loan spell with today’s opponents.

Sheffield United‘s Rhys Norrington-Davies challenges Barnsley’s Callum Brittain (Photo: Andrew Yates/Sportimage)

He makes that clear when asked how much he was able to learn from senior pros such as Gareth Bale, who he spent the international break with.

“You can take advice from the players, but it’s about being on the pitch in different scenarios,” he stresses. “You can replicate as much as you can on the training ground, but you don’t get that game scenario, so playing time is really worth it.”

Moving around is natural for a player born in Saudi Arabia, who spent part of his childhood in Wales and Kenya with his father in the army.

“It was probably something I had to do in terms of getting out and having experience to make me appreciate what I had here,” he says of his loans.

United’s Rhys Norrington-Davies of Sheffield Utd and Hull City’s Ryan Longman (Photo: Andrew Yates/Sportimage)

“It was crucial for my development to play minutes. Over the years I worked my way up and it got me to where I am now, so I can’t really complain.

“Every loan I’ve had has been different working under different managers and every manager I’ve had has had a different philosophy or style of play and it’s just about adding that to your own game. When Hecky (Blades manager Paul Heckingbottom) came in, he has his own style of play, but the loans I had let me hopefully know what he might want.

He’s always trying to learn off the pitch too.

“I regularly look back at my game and see what I need to do better,” he says.

“I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I sit down with the manager and other staff regularly and we go over snippets of what they want me to do better.

“One in particular works on my last third of the ball and plays forward as often as possible. I feel like it’s going slowly but these things take time. I just have to keep working on it.

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