Sheffield-born football pundit John Beresford has launched a scathing attack on the Owls’ “ridiculous” handling of talented young striker George Hirst.
Hirst, who scored 40 goals for club and country last season, has yet to play at any level this season for Wednesday due to a contract dispute. It is looking increasingly likely the 18-year-old will leave Hillsborough when his deal runs out next summer.
The Owls rejected three bids for Hirst from Premier League club Leicester City before the transfer window shut at the end of August.
Beresford is baffled why the Owls have been unable to tie Hirst down to a long-term contract and stopped him from playing matches.
Speaking to Alan Biggs on Sheffield Live last night, Beresford said: “I’m good friends with George’s dad (David). It is not me talking out of turn. I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense.
“You have a diamond at the club. You have a local lad who loves the club who is flying. Over the last 18 months, he has burst on to the scene.
“Sheffield Wednesday, from me on the outside, should be bending over backwards to make him happy and to show that if you do well you make progress.
“There is a contract dispute but that happens at any level at any other club. But for a club to then go ‘by the way, you’re not going to play’ is idiotic and just doesn’t make any sense.
“From what I can gather, he’s going to play more times for England than he is for his club. I don’t think the club are going to even play him.
“If I was a young player when you are in that position, I would be a little like ‘you know what, shove it. If you’re going to treat me like this then why should I stay at a club like this?’ This is my opinion, not George Hirst’s opinion.
“It is not sending good vibes out to the rest of the players because he’s still going into train.
“George is a good lad. He’s not arrogant. He works hard and he loves the game.
“What a waste of six months for George. What a waste for Sheffield Wednesday. They would have got a lot more money for him if they had looked after him.
“I would love to sit down with whoever is making this decision and say ‘what are you doing, you are doing the club and the player no service whatsoever.’ It’s ridiculous.”
Beresford, a lifelong Sheffield United fan, added he would “love it” if the Blades tried to sign Hirst.
Comparing Hirst’s situation with that of Wales international David Brooks, who has played 18 times for Sheffield United this season, Beresford said: “Talk about two contrasts. You’ve got a lad at Sheffield United who’s going, ‘right, I’ve got a club that wants me,’ and you’ve got a lad on the other side who’s going, ‘you don’t want me’.
“So Sheffield United could have two players… I didn’t say which player, I’m just saying you never know what might happen.
“I’m turning into [Beresford’s former Newcastle United manager, Kevin] Keegan now - I’d love it if that happened.”
As revealed by The Star last month, Hirst turned down a new long-term contract which would have made him the best-paid player at his age group in Wednesday’s history.
It is understood discussions have broken down between the Championship club’s hierarchy and Hirst’s representative.
Speaking in October, head coach Carlos Carvalhal said: “He’s not a player who is involved with us.
“I’m the manager of the club but I’m not a person to do contracts and to talk about these things. It is something that is completely out of my orbit.
“It is not something in my hands so I can’t give an opinion about it.”
Hirst, who starred in the Toulon tournament for the England Under-19s last summer, has made two first-team appearances for the Owls, coming on as a substitute against Cambridge United and Reading last term.