One that got away: the Sheffield Wednesday target who could play for Watford against Owls

Sheffield Wednesday have lost out in the race to sign Manchester United starlet James Garner.
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The 19-year-old is a name that was linked with the Owls but has since been unveiled as a Watford player.. But who is he, what does he offer and could he make his debut at Hillsborough?

Let’s take a look.

Who is he?

Manchester United starlet James Garner has been linked with a loan move to Sheffield Wednesday.Manchester United starlet James Garner has been linked with a loan move to Sheffield Wednesday.
Manchester United starlet James Garner has been linked with a loan move to Sheffield Wednesday.

Birkenhead-born Manchester United starlet James Garner, 19, is one of the country’s brightest prospects having shot to the national consciousness in 2018 by making his United debut aged just 17.

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Known as ‘Jimmy’, he’s been at the club since he was seven and having made a handful of senior appearances was linked with a host of Championship clubs, including Sheffield Wednesday, on loan.

What’s he done?

As pedigrees go, Garner is an English football thoroughbred.

He’s captained Manchester United and the national team at several youth levels and at just 19 played out last season as the skipper of the Red Devils’ under-23 team, for whom he scored eight goals in just 10 league appearances in a Covid-decimated campaign.

He was also captain of the England under-17 side that reached the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2017.

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The owner of seven senior appearances for a United first team packed with international-class midfield options, he has mainly featured in the Europa League.

Last season won the historic Denzil Haroun trophy for the club’s under-23s player of the year, a distinction previously held by the likes of Nicky Butt as well as former Owls David Jones and Kieran Lee.

What sort of player is he?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has described him as ‘the next Michael Carrick’.

Garner can play in a Carrick-like deep-lying playmaker role or as a more advanced box-to-box player. He has a real eye for goal, as his record testifies, and moves the ball around midfield quickly and intelligently.

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Once seen as a centre-half, the five-foot-eight 19-year-old isn’t the most imposing figure but is not shy of a tackle. On his day, he can control a game at will.

What’s been said?

Manchester United under-23s coach Neil Wood has spoken about Garner’s future.

He said on Garner and fellow prospect Tahith Chong: “They're at the point now where they need to go play in the league, play in a first-team environment, playing in those games every week where they are going to be stretched and find it hard.

“The incentive is there, it is not like they're going on loan and we are trying to find an exit strategy for them.

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“They are going on loan to show how good they are, to show what they can do and to make an impact at the club they are going to be at, and hopefully come back to be a Manchester United player.”

What are the chances of him making his debut against Wednesday?

Subject to registration, which can be rushed through fairly quickly nowadays, Garner should be eligible to line up against Wednesday at Hillsborough tomorrow.

The 19-year-old is understood to be in good physical condition and has been training at United, so there’s no problems there, it will come down to whether or not he is pushed straight out there in a team he does not yet know.


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