Sheffield Wednesday’s ex-Manchester United man rated by Gary Neville and West Ham is right on schedule

It’s been five weeks and two days since Sheffield Wednesday manager Xisco fired out a warning on new signing Di’Shon Bernard.
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A bright debut outing in an otherwise uninspiring Carabao Cup display against Stockport County had returned rave reviews for the new Owls centre-half, 22 and hoping to make his way at Hillsborough having been farmed out on loan by Manchester United in previous seasons.

Xisco’s message was that the Jamaican international was a work in progress, tellingly describing him as ‘one of the options’ in a Wednesday changing room full of more gnarled defensive colleagues.

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It would take him five weeks or so, the Spaniard said, to get up to speed.

“We have good potential, we have young guys, we have experience, we have capacity, we have strength in the duels. We have good things in the backline and Di’Shon is one of the options for us,” Xisco had said.

“We need to help him with the education, to give a better idea of what we want in terms of tactics and to get him in-line with the guys we have been working with for five weeks. I am sure that when he gets to there [five weeks more work] the situation will be better.”

That time elapsed and a switch to a three-at-the-back system later, Bernard has played every minute of their last two matches and looks every bit the first team player. He’s working ahead of schedule.

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No Wednesday player averages more blocks per 90 minutes than Bernard, he ranks second for clearances. But it is in interceptions he has most impressed, racking up 16 in his three outings - some at vital moments.

It’s this reading of the game that has been spoken about glowingly in the past. Starting out at Chelsea and turning down a place in the esteemed Crystal Palace academy before making his Old Trafford switch, he has done the hard yards through the EFL, playing in each of the divisions with Salford City, Hull City and Portsmouth.

Wednesday are now the beneficiaries and did well to sign him given historical interest from a number of impressed clubs. West Ham United were said to have been interested in signing him permanently last summer.

Each of those previous loan clubs have expressed public interest in signing him, too.

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Not least Salford City co-owner and Manchester United legend Gary Neville, who speaking on the Class of 92’: Full-time documentary made no secret of his admiration for Bernard’s natural ability.

“He’s on the front foot, steps in front, pushes up a little bit, makes us more aggressive. I’d like to sign him full-time but I don’t know if United would let him go,” he said in 2021.

“He’s the type of player we need. Young, hungry, wants to develop a career for himself. Players who can pass like he can, run like he can, got the physicality that he has, the talent, the ability to read the game – he’s a really good player.”

If five weeks was Xisco’s timeline on Bernard looking the part at Sheffield Wednesday, he’s woring ahead of schedule.

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