Sheffield Wednesday: Neil Thompson issues stern warning to Owls youngsters

The conveyor belt of talent continues continues to roll at Hillsborough.Â

Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 5:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 5:27 pm
Under-23s boss Neil Thompson

A raft of youngsters, including Jordan Thorniley, Matt Penney, Ash Baker and Fraser Preston, have been handed their seniors debuts this calendar year.

Connor O'Grady, Frederik Nielsen, Alex Hunt, Jack Lee, Connor Kirby and Jack Stobbs have also made the step up under Owls chief Jos Luhukay.

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Defenders Thorniley and Penney have particularly caught the eye. The duo have started the last three Championship matches and acquitted themselves well.

Development squad manager Neil Thompson is happy to see youth being given a chance but has told Wednesday's young guns to not get carried away.

"They have got their opportunities and done well but, I have said all a long, they are on the first rung of the ladder," Thompson told The Star. "They haven't done anything yet. 

"They have played and done okay.

"They have to keep kicking on and that should motivate everybody within my team, the Under-18s and the academy.

"We are trying to develop players who are ready for first-team football.

"The secret is someone has got to put them in and Jos [Luhukay] has done that. He has given them that confidence to go and play and it is great to see."

Has Thompson been surprised by the way the likes of Thorniley and Penney have adapted to the rigours of the Championship?

Thompson, who has worked closely with the pair in recent years, said: "You think they are ready but you never know until they go in. 

"One thing that doesn't surprise me is young players always go into a team and they probably do better than you think they are going to.

"When you put a young player in, you've got to see how far you can stretch them. Where is their ceiling? Can they get through that and go to the next level?

"They are very young in the game and have had a few games but it is when they get 100, 150 games under their belts. That has to be the goal for all of them."

As far as Thompson is concerned, consistency in performance is essential if a player is going to be successful at senior level.

"When you go up to first-team training or make an appearance, the games come thick and fast and there is a massive increase in the intensity of the game," he said. "Physically and technically they have to be switched on. One hundred per cent. 

"You can't switch off over 90 minutes and that's the big challenge for all young players going in because it can be a bit of a blur for 20 minutes in a game until they settle in.

"Quite a few of the boys have had a little bit of a taste of first-team football. It is great to see for us but we have to keep driving forward. We, as an academy, can't rest on our laurels and be happy with that. We have to keep pushing."