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Warning to young Sheffield Wednesday stars: There’s a long way to go yet

Owls youngster Jordan Thorniley holds off Borough's Stewart Downing....Pic Steve Ellis
Owls youngster Jordan Thorniley holds off Borough's Stewart Downing....Pic Steve Ellis
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There’ll be no complacency slipping into the mindset of the rising stars of Sheffield Wednesday ... not if the man in charge has anything to do with it.

Owls under 23s manager Neil Thompson has seen a raft of young talent get their chance in the first team of late, a lot of that through necessity due to the number of injuries in the squad, but also because boss Jos Luhukay wants to see what’s coming through.

Ched Evans of Sheffield United and Sean Clare of Sheffield Wednesday during the U23 professional development league match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Ched Evans of Sheffield United and Sean Clare of Sheffield Wednesday during the U23 professional development league match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. Simon Bellis/Sportimage

However, while praise has been poured on the likes of Jordan Thorniley and Connor O’Grady after their stepping up, Thompson has warned the players that they are a fair bit of being able to say they have ‘made it’.

“It’s great winning games and the league last year but ultimately, what we’re here for is to try and provide players for the first team,” said Thompson.

“It’s been great for the academy since Christmas.

“A lot of work has gone in right across the age groups and to see three or four get a little opportunity in the first team it gives others the motivation.

Sheffield Wednesday under 23s boss Neil Thompson

Sheffield Wednesday under 23s boss Neil Thompson

“That ‘yeah, the firsts have a few injuries and the opportunity might arise, I’ve got to go in and take it’ and earn the right, the manager’s got to trust him.

“The lads who have gone in, O’Grady, Freddie (Neilsen), Thorniley, Sean Clare, they’ve been in and around it and been able to get the pace, but it’s the first rung of the ladder and they’ve got to keep building.

“It’s not a career yet, they’ve got to keep consistency and keep levels up, which isn’t easy as young boys, because they’re still developing and maturing as young men and as football players. Our job is to get them on the first team pitch at Hillsborough and get them a football career.”

Thompson went on express the importance of the players remaining grounded.

“Sean came on in the derby for the last minute or so which was great for him, he added.

“I’m sure he’d have loved a little bit more but he’s got to earn the right,

“Jordan’s had a couple of full games which is great to see and Connor and Freddie played in the cup game and didn’t do themselves any harm,

“They have got to still keep their heads up and keep feet on the ground.

“There’s a long way to go but that motivation has got to be there, not just for them but for the rest of the players too, ‘come on there’s a pathway there, let’s keep working hard’.

“It takes a bit of time to do it, that is for sure - you don’t get in over one or two performances.

“You’ve got to have a level of consistency.”

Thompson has also been impressed by Luhukay’s approach to the youth set-up at Middlewood.

“It’s been great under Jos,” he said.

“All the time I’ve been doing this job there’s been that contact with the manager at the time.

“There’s been integration, U23s have trained with the first team and some have taken to it well, some have taken a little while to get used to it and that has continued.

“It is really encouraging for us as an academy.”