Neil Thompson's message to Sheffield Wednesday's youngsters

Sheffield Wednesday youngsters Matt Penney, Fraser Preston, Jack Lee and Connor Kirby
Sheffield Wednesday youngsters Matt Penney, Fraser Preston, Jack Lee and Connor Kirby

Sheffield Wednesday are reaping the rewards of Jos Luhukay's youth policy.

First-team boss Luhukay has kept a close eye on the Owls' academy since his appointment last January, taking a more active interest in their progress than previous managers.

A raft of players have stepped up from Wednesday's youth ranks to play in the Championship, including Matt Penney, Jordan Thorniley, Ash Baker, Fraser Preston and Connor Kirby.

Defender Isaac Rice and midfielder Liam Shaw, two under-18s players, were recently selected on the bench against Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion respectively to further enhance their football education.

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Neil Thompson, the Under-23s boss, told The Star: "It is very encouraging for everybody in the academy. Jos has shown a lot of trust in the young players and they have gone and taken their opportunities.

"It should be a motivating factor for any young player at the club. If they show the right attitude, they will get an opportunity."

Luhukay's commitment to giving youngsters opportunities at senior level is admirable and refreshing.

But Thompson has warned the Owls' youth talent that must keep on developing if they are to continue flourishing in the second-tier.

"They are all on the first rung of the ladder and know they can't get ahead of themselves," said Thompson. "They have still got to work hard and play their football. It's important they get their minutes in.

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Connor Kirby

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Connor Kirby

"Getting an opportunity to be on the bench or to be involved in the first-team whether it is training or on the matchday is good for their development but they have to embrace it.

"We have seen a certain upsurge in young players getting an opportunity and one or two have grabbed it.

"It is all very positive but it has been a long-term thing. It has taken a four, five, six years to get the players up to scratch."

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