Sheffield Wednesday: Example of 'inspirational' first teamers will help academy campaign as full back eyes first team return
Sheffield Wednesday’s faltering under-23 league campaign will be helped along by the experience of playing with some of the club’s biggest names.
That’s according to youth coach Andy Holdsworth, who was on the sidelines to watch club captain Tom Lees and record signing Jordan Rhodes join Jordan Thorniley and Ash Baker in the under-23s’ 1-1 draw with Burnley on Monday.
The young Owls sit towards the bottom of their development league but the experience of playing with those names will be invaluable going forward, Holdsworth told swfc.co.uk.
“It’s always a massive bonus having first team players involved, especially the club captain.
“The players manage themselves when they go over the white line and I think they have been missing that little bit of experience over the last couple of weeks so having the senior pros on the pitch was a boost for the young players.
“It only takes the older heads to have a little talk with them out there and it helps the young lads through the games with keeping that intensity level up.”
The match was a first appearance in over two months for Lees and provided a run out for full-back Ash Baker, who has been out with a groin injury.
The 23-year-old said he is looking forward to getting his season back on track and that he hopes to add to his 12 first team appearances with Wednesday in the near future.
“It’s been a long, hard road, but I feel fit and strong now,” Baker said. “It’s horrible being in the physio room for six weeks because you want to be out on the pitch showing people want you can do and Monday was a big step towards that.
“I got 45 minutes today in so hopefully soon I can play a few more under-23s games to work up to 60 then 90 to show I am ready to be back in contention for the first team.”
The point at Burnley was their first in three matches and Holdsworth held up Baker’s example as one the younger players should look to follow.
He said: “The lads need to aspire to what the likes of Jordan Thorniley and Ash Baker have achieved here as well as the other senior players and watch, listen and see how they act around the building and in games.
“We saw with the attitude of the senior players at Burnley that they are completely engrossed with the game.”