Sheffield Wednesday: Barry Bannan is keen to help the Owls’ next generation

Owls star Barry Bannan
Owls star Barry Bannan

As one of the most experienced players in Wednesday's squad, Barry Bannan sees it as part of his duty to help the club's youngsters develop.

And it has been noticeable how the gifted midfielder has taken some of the Owls' promising crop of young players under his wing and offered them advice on the pitch this season.

"It's something I don't really think about going into games," said Bannan, who kicked off his career at Aston Villa. "It's just something that happens naturally when there are young boys there. 

"I remember coming into the first team at Villa and there were some big figures in that team. 

"I just remember, it wasn't that they were going out of their way to help me, it just came naturally. I think that's happened to me."

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The popular Scot is keen to pass on his knowledge to the next generation and play a major role in nurturing them.

He said: "When the young players come into the team, you get that added responsibility to do more because you're a role model to these people. 

"You've got to do things right off the pitch, like in training, because they're watching everything you do. You've got to be a professional, and that's what I think I've done."

There were plenty of senior pros Bannan looked up to and learnt from when he came through the ranks at Villa Park.

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"There were loads at Villa: Gareth Barry, Stylian Petrov, James Milner, Ashley Young, Gabby Agbonlahor," said Bannan, who is in the running for the August Championship goal of the month award following his spectacular strike against Millwall. "That was a strong squad in the Premier League. 

"I think we finished sixth three times ina row in that era. It was a strong team. Everyone was a leader in their own way, so it was good to learn from them. That's helped me now with our young boys coming through."

Wednesday chief Jos Luhukay has promoted youth throughout his eight-month reign, handing debuts to a plethora of academy players, including Jordan Thorniley, Matt Penney, Ash Baker and Fraser Preston.

Luhukay has also shown he is not afraid to leave out big names in favour of giving the kids an opportunity to impress, dropping established stars Sam Hutchinson and Fernando Forestieri to the bench.

His gamble has paid dividends as the Owls have won three league matches on the bounce.

Luhukay paid tribute to Cameron Dawson, Penney and Thorniley after their most recent victory over Reading.

"I'm so proud of these young boys that they have a positive feeling," he said. "I said to Matt [Penney] after the game 'heh, you play now three games and we win three times and pick up nine points; is that normal?' He said 'no' but he can be happy."

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