The ace card up Sheffield Wednesday's sleeve in the race to sign talented ex-Arsenal defender
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With a raft of players to replace, under-23s boss Lee Bullen confirmed that a contract offer has been made to outgoing Southampton youngster David Agbontohoma to join the club ahead of next season.
A defender once with Arsenal, it was first revealed by The Star earlier this year that the 20-year-old had trialled with the Owls, making an appearance for Bullen’s Owlets against their Colchester United counterparts in April.
It seems they face a battle with Stoke City for the defender’s signature after he also turned out for their second string late last season.
And while there are off-field issues to sort out at S6 – as there are believed to be at many clubs – Wednesday will hope the reputations of several staff members will attract youngsters such as Agbontohoma to the club.
The record of Darren Moore and Jamie Smith is well-known when it comes to young players. On a shoestring budget at Doncaster Rovers they were praised for their handling of youngsters and loanees from higher division clubs.
But first team coach Paul Williams is also one of the more revered youth coaches in the country, having helped to fine-tune the likes of Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse, Calum Chambers, Sam Gallagher and Harrison Reed during his time at under-18s coach at Southampton.
He since went on to roles in youth coaching at Brentford, with England at under-15, under-16 and under-20 level and with Norwich City.
His partner in crime at Southampton, Saints playing legend Jason Dodd, spoke to The Star shortly after his appointment and outlined just what an asset Williams can be for talented youngsters.
“He finds out what makes each boy tick, he knows how to get the best out of them,” he said.
“The players should take all the credit because they put the work in. But there was a lot of work that went on behind the scenes that people don’t tend to know about. He was a big leader of that, making sure we knew everything about the players to make them better on the football field. He was meticulous.
“You find with some lads, you explain things to them on the grass and they get it right away. Some aren’t that way and you’d have to take the time to do some video with them or whatever, it’s all about that understanding of what each individual player’s needs are and carrying out that help.
“And Willo is really top class at that sort of thing. He’s got a good eye for people.
“He’s a player’s coach. The players will take to him straight away. And he won’t take any prisoners, if someone needs to be told, they’ll be told. But he won’t just tell you to do it, he’ll take it upon himself to help you get there.”
Agbontohoma would be a welcome addition ahead of what will surely be a busy summer for the Owls, who confirmed the departures of 10 senior players, five under-23s and five under-18s over the past few weeks.