Spotlight on Liam Shaw's Sheffield Wednesday debut as Garry Monk pays tribute to youngster's work ethic

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There was a moment in Sheffield Wednesday’s season-ending 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough on Wednesday evening that showed a glimmer of Liam Shaw’s do-or-die attitude to playing football.

Drifting off one Owls half-challenge, the ball fell loose at the feet of 32-year-old, six-foot-two Boro man George Friend, who was within half a second crumpled on the floor.

It was not the tidiest of Shaw’s moments in his 53 minutes on the field, nor was it his wisest, but it showed a determination to assert themselves on a game in that some youngsters, especially on their full debut, all too often pass up.

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Harsh, perhaps, to lead on that moment in an outing that saw the imposing 19-year-old show huge maturity in going about his defensive responsibilities.

Liam Shaw leaves the field after his full Sheffield Wednesday debut against Middlesbrough.Liam Shaw leaves the field after his full Sheffield Wednesday debut against Middlesbrough.
Liam Shaw leaves the field after his full Sheffield Wednesday debut against Middlesbrough.

His cameo appearance in the centre of defence at QPR out of the way, he was pushed into his preferred position of central midfield and looked largely pretty assured, the physical aspect of the game coming naturally to him.

A look back at the footage shows that for the most part he refused to dive into tackles and placed himself in smart defensive positions. Shaw won four tackles on the day – more than anyone else despite his early exit in favour of Massimo Luongo – in a diligent defensive outing.

Owls boss Garry Monk told The Star he was impressed with the youngster’s output. He said: “He deserved game time and he’s been fantastic all season long, training with me and then coming back from that break he’s impressed me in training.

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“Unfortunately last week he picked up a bit of a knock just before the Fulham game, he possibly would have played some part in that. He deserved those minutes tonight, he’s another one for the future.

“He needs to carry on with the way he’s going, follow through on the hard work that he’s done and he’s another one that could have a bright future.”

Shaw was more reserved going forward and in a painful moment of bad luck found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, inadvertently deflecting Tom Lees’ goal-bound header wide on the stroke of half-time with the score at 1-1.

But he was tidy with the ball at feet, completing 85 per cent of his passes, and showed for the ball wherever possible; receiving it once every 3.3 minutes, on par with replacement Luongo at once every 3.38 minutes and Kieran Lee, who took the ball once every 3.15 minutes.

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Together with midfield colleague Alex Hunt and defender Osaze Urhoghide, Shaw is the third Wednesday academy graduate to have been bled into the first team this season in terms of appearances, but Owls youngsters have been a constant part of training with Garry Monk’s side throughout the season.

“You work your whole life to be part of the squad, you feel more like part of the team,” Shaw said after his QPR bow. “Being in the team meetings and things like that are unbelievable.

“In training, it’s more pacey and there’s a higher demand, you can tell the difference to get up to that level, you can’t stroll through it.”


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