Sheffield Wednesday: Lavery aims to be Cup pest!

Caolan Lavery celebrates after his second goal against Leeds
Caolan Lavery celebrates after his second goal against Leeds
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Caolan Lavery is preparing to make a nuisance of himself when the Owls go to Rochdale on Saturday.

That is not a criticism of the young striker - just the opposite.

Opposing defenders are the ones who are annoyed by his talents.

Wednesday appreciate his pace and non-stop energy and his goalscoring potential - qualities that will put him strongly in contention for an FA Cup debut for the club.

Admiring coach Lee Bullen says that the 21-year-old is a “pest” in defenders’ eyes.

Lavery made a decent full league debut at Burnley, and Leeds were unable to control him when he scored two as a sub in the the previous Saturday’s 6-0 romp.

The striker might even have turned a 1-1 draw into a win at Turf Moor.

Bullen has seen him come through the Under-21s, so it has been satisfying time for the coach who has himself moved up from the development squad to aid the first team and Stuart Gray.

“It made me feel fantastic that he got his full debut and I thought he put in a great performance,” said Bullen.

“He had a couple of half-chances that nine times out of 10 he would have stuck away. I think it was a gamble by Stuart and it paid off because he got the right reaction. We looked at the way Burnley played and they’ve got two big lads at centre-back and I’m sure they would have trained all week expecting to play against Wickham and Nuhiu.

“Stuart threw in Caolan and that gave them something else to think about.

“What you get with the kid is 100 per cent workrate. He is a pest for any defender. He chases lost causes and he did that on Saturday. He gave us an option. It was a very, very tough game and a very good point.”

Frenchman Franck Betra is another striker who has shown promise in the youth ranks.

He has yet to make a first-team breakthrough but was on the bench for the 1-1 FA Cup draw at Mansfield, when Lavery was on loan at Plymouth so unavailable for that game.

Bullen added: “The foundations are there. We knew when we came in a couple of years ago that we had a lot of catching up to do, but we’ve had the support of the first-team staff in the past and present.

“We’ve had the support of the chief executive and the chairman with trying to get the right things in place.

“We’ve put some new staff within the academy set-up and it is slowly getting there. Our 16s and 18s both thumped Leeds on Saturday and that was without Betra, Jack Stobbs and Charlie Dawes, who we have high hopes for. That maybe wouldn’t have happened three or four years ago.

“The recruitment and coaching side of things is picking up. It is those building blocks that we hope will underpin the first-team performances and provide a little bit of longevity for the club.”