Sheffield Wednesday: How Jos Luhukay plans to look after top prospect Matt Penney
Caring boss Jos Luhukay has pledged to put a protective arm around the Sheffield Wednesday starlet who is fast emerging as one of the Championship's brightest young talents.
Just six second-tier matches into his fledgling career, Matt Penney is already a clear first-choice selection for the Owls and played a major part in last Saturday's 2-1 win at Aston Villa.
But Luhukay, whose side face Leeds United in a Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough on Friday, is ready to take the youngster out of the firing line from time to time to lessen the risk of injury or fatigue.
Penney enhanced his burgeoning reputation with the quality of his display on the left side of midfield at Villa Park as Wednesday climbed too 10th in the table, three days after Luhukay had left him out of the clash at Nottigham Forest.
"We need him," the manager said after seeing goals from Marco Matias and Steven Fletcher down Steve Bruce's men. "It is maybe the fifth or sixth game in his young career. We go very carefully with him.
"It was our decision to give him a rest on Wednesday (atÂ Forest) with three games in a week and with Leeds United and West Brom to come."
The 20-year-old, who has been with Wednesday since he was at primary school, is also comfortable at full-back but was given a more advanced role at Villa Park as Luhukay opted to play three at the back.
Penney marked home winger Albert Adomah out of the game while also making his presence felt going forward, showing a level of maturity far beyond his tender years.
"He was unbelievable," Luhukay said. "I have the feeling that he has played in the first 11 for 10 years in the left-back position. He plays with no fear. He is not afraid."
Penney made his debut in the 2-0 Carabao Cup win at Sunderland on August 16 and has since featured in league games against Brentford, Millwall, Ipswich Town, Reading, Stoke City and Villa.
He said he had "goosebumps" when he ran out on to the Hillsborough turf for the first time before the 2-1 win over Millwall.
"He is a really, really good player for us," Luhukay added. "He's a player for the future. I'm so happy with him. He played a very good game against Aston Villa."