Lavery’s progress can act as spur for young players

Chesterfield v Sheffield Wednesday....Owls youngster Caolan Lavery gets away from Spirites Sam Togwell
Chesterfield v Sheffield Wednesday....Owls youngster Caolan Lavery gets away from Spirites Sam Togwell
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So far so good - that’s the story up to now for striker Caolan Lavery, writes Paul Thompson.

The 20-year-old may not yet be considered a first-team player by Dave Jones.

But he is heading in the right direction, after breaking into the squad, making his debut as a sub against Burnley, earning a Northern Ireland Under 21 call-up and, this week, scoring twice for the Owls development squad at Hillsborough.

Coach Lee Bullen says that Lavery has made strides over the last year: “Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done, but he’s desperate to learn; he’s trained a lot with the first team this season, and his confidence has improved with that.

“He’s very direct, and it’s a nightmare for a defender when someone is so positive..

“He can be a bit blinkered now and again around the box, but he’s very sharp at getting the ball out from his feet and getting off a shot - any striker worth his salt needs to have that.

“We picked him up from Ipswich at the beginning of last season. Slowly but surely he has matured.

“His decision-making in the final third of the pitch has improved. That used to let him down, though his work-rate has always been there. He makes really good runs as well, and if you’re a midfielder or a defender you know where he wants the ball.”

The Canada-born forward’s debut against Burnley gave Bullen great satisfaction: “That’s what my job is all about.

“First and foremost, we are trying to deliver players who are first-team material.

“Secondly, we want to give them the opportunity of going out and getting experience on loan. (Lavery did this at Southend last season). Thirdly, if they’re not going to be with Sheffield Wednesday, I want to play a part in their development that gives them a career in football.

“But mainly it’s getting them in the first team here. Caolan had been on the bench a couple of times and been in the squad without having that breakthrough. Seeing him making his debut, albeit for only 10 minues, was different class for a me and a tick mark for all the academy.

“He was buzzing. He said he wanted to play for longer and get some shots at goal!”

Bullen says that Lavery’s progress should serve as an incentive to the other young players but that he and everyone else must continue to be level-headed and hard-working:.

“When somebody has made a step up then comes back down to his own age-group, it’s a big test; he mustn’t go big-time Charlie ; he must show he can dominate there”

Lavery did it with his double in the 3-2 win against Coventry.

Added Bullen: “The manager will have thoughts about including him in his squad for Saturday.

“We’ve encouraged Caolan and given him the positivity, but it’s all down to him.”