Sheffield Wednesday: Rhodes talks Joe Wildsmith success

Owls keeper Joe Wildsmith
Owls keeper Joe Wildsmith
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When Andy Rhodes first set eyes on Joe Wildsmith, he knew he would become a senior player for Sheffield Wednesday.

Not only did the prediction of the Owls goalkeeping coach come true, the fresh-faced 12-year-old he first met now has England age group honours.

And tonight, the Sheffield-born keeper could win his first cap for England Unders 21s, after being drafted in from U20 duty for the European Championship qualifier against Kazakhstan in Coventry.

“When I first met Joe at 12, I knew he would play first team football for Sheffield Wednesday,” Rhodes said.

“He’s done that, he’s established himself in the squad as a senior player and the world’s at his feet.”

Rhodes travelled out to Germany last week to watch Wildsmith feature for England U20 in their 3-1 win over the Netherlands.

And he spoke of his delight at the 19-year-old’s call for Gareth Southgate’s U21 squad.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for Joe,” Rhodes said.

“I know Eric Steele, the age group goalkeeping coach for England, and I said it was about time Joe got the call.

“But I also said it’d be better for him to be in the U20s and play rather than sitting on the bench for the U21s.

“So hopefully he’ll get to play on Tuesday.

“He was outstanding last week against Holland. His parents were out there to see him and they were over the moon.

“They were more excited than him because he’s so laid back, he’s horizontal.”

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An injury to Keiren Westwood after an hour thrust Wildsmith into his senior Owls debut at Ipswich Town earlier this season.

And since then he has made four starts, including in the Capital One Cup win over Newcastle United.

Mentor Rhodes puts the youngster’s success down to his temperament.

He said: “Joe doesn’t get too excited or too downbeat, whatever happens.

“His temperament is fantastic and that is why he’s looked so assured.

“He’s got to keep working at all aspects of his game but that is the same for every goalkeeper, whatever age.

“But you can’t buy his temperament. You see kids with all the talent in the world but they just don’t have the right mentality.”

Rhodes also believes the competitive nature of the Wednesday squad for goalkeepers is a major advantage.

He said: “Joe is one of four senior keepers. It’s not just Keiren Westwood and Lewis Price.

“Him and Cami (Cameron Dawson) are right there pushing. And they push each other as well.

“Those two have done fantastic and Cami deserves as much credit as Joe.

“It’s a great team. We’ve got Weavs (Nicky Weaver) working with us and we bring in the young lads from the U18s and U16s.

“It’s a great group to be part of.”

Wildsmith was called into the England U21 squad to replace Manchester City’s Angus Gunn.

He will face competition from Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford and Brighton’s Christian Walton who are on loan at Preston North End and Bury respectively.