Owls fan column: Use loan market to get George Hirst ready for Wednesday

George Hirst
George Hirst
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Sheffield Wednesday’s academy used to be in the depths of deepest winter but after serious investment under Milan Mandaric, we’re starting to see the shoots of spring.

On Alan Biggs’ Sheffield Live show last week, Wednesday’s Lee Bullen talked about bringing development squad players through to the first team.

There is a concern about players making the step up too soon, especially those with a legendary surname.

Bully warned that the Championship is a big step up from the U18s, which I don’t think any sensible fan will disagree with – but is George Hirst too young to be loaned out to a lower league team to get the competitive experience he needs?

There are plenty of clubs crying out for young, hungry players that are ‘scoring for fun’, as Bullen described young Hirst. Wednesday being one of them.

He has scored 19 goals for club and country this season, two on debut for England U17s against Germany.

I can see the reticence to put the pressure on his 17-year-old shoulders but past experience has shown us that not playing youngsters when they are ready can be just as damaging.

Look at David Pleat’s wisdom of dropping Ritchie Humphries in the mid-90s when he was ‘scoring for fun’ at the top of the Premier League.

He never quite hit the form he had with the Owls because of Pleat’s ‘overprotective’ approach of only playing him in occasional matches.

The saying goes ‘if they’re good enough they’re old enough’ but I respect the club’s approach to nurture and protect our youngsters.

But IF they’re on the brink, get them out on loan, get them league ready and get them in the Wednesday rotation. Isn’t this why we invested in the academy in the first place?