Penney set for pivotal year in his young Wednesday career

As we all know only too well, football is a sport that is packed with highs and lows.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 6th June 2019, 9:17 pm
Updated Friday, 7th June 2019, 8:36 pm
Matt Penney
Matt Penney

And for Sheffield Wednesday's Matt Penney that is a feeling he knows only too well.

Last season may have only been his debut season as a senior member of the Owls squad but the 21-year-old, born in Chesterfield, experienced both the thrill of making his senior debut and the heartache of a long-term injury.

Penney, who is out of contract next summer, was awarded his Wednesday debut in last season's Carabao Cup first round win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, replacing defender Joost van Aken as a second half substitute, an occasion that sparked the beginning of a memorable run in the team for the defender.

The ex-Bradford City loanee started nine of Wednesday's next 11 Championship matches and even earned himself the club's Player of the Month accolade for September. He made the left-back position his own and was earning rave reviews from the supporters. It appeared that Wednesday had solved their long-term left-back problems with one of their own.

But Wednesday's gritty 1-0 success over Bolton Wanderers at Hillsborough back in November proved to be Penney's final appearance of the season. He was dropped by former Wednesday chief Jos Luhukay before dislocating his shoulder in January.

It was a devastating blow for the academy graduate who had made such a superb impression on the supporters, just a handful of games into his senior career.

But after battling back through the pain barrier, not only did Penney feature in the Under-23s final game of the season, he was also named on the bench for the 2-1 home reverse to QPR on the final day of the season. It was a real positive to see the left-back, who can also operate as a left-midfielder, back in and around the first-team squad.

Next season, though, could prove to be a significant one in shaping Penney's Wednesday career. After quickly adapting to the pressure cooker of the Championship, almost like a duck to water, Penney was awarded a new contract last October, extending his time at Hillsborough until the summer of 2020.

Therefore, next term could prove to be a vital one in Penney's future, especially when Steve Bruce, unlike his predecessor, Jos Luhukay, has not offered any promises of giving his younger players a consistent run of games.

However, with Bruce making it very clear that he wants to freshen up his squad with younger legs, it may be that Penney does get the opportunity to stake his claim for a regular run in the side after all.

But with Penney's contract due to expire in less than 12 months time, the youngster really has got to seize every opportunity that is presented to him next season.

He is an exciting prospect and if he can rediscover the heights he reached at the start of last season, the former Mansfield Town loanee should have little problem in earning himself a new deal and cementing himself in Bruce's plans.