Why the whole Sheffield Wednesday set-up has been boosted by young players’ rise

Jordan Thorniley signed a new contract earlier this season
Jordan Thorniley signed a new contract earlier this season
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Sheffield Wednesday’s under 23s manager Neil Thompson says the rise to the first team by some of his young starlets has given everyone a huge lift over the past few months.

The likes of Sean Clare, Jordan Thorniley, Connor O’Grady and Freddie Neilsen have all been offered opportunities in the senior squad, with others spending time training with the experienced players.

Neil Thompson alongside Lee Bullen....Pic Steve Ellis

Neil Thompson alongside Lee Bullen....Pic Steve Ellis

Thompson says boss Jos Luhukay’s decision to promote, shows there is a ‘pathway’ to the top and has given players at all levels of development a boost.

“It’s been, for me and all the Academy staff and all the Academy players, a real motivating factor,” said Thompson.

“They’ve not just gone up and trained with the first team, one or two have made appearances and got involved in the first team.

“It’s great. The first team have had a lot of injuries which has given the lads an opportunity. But when you go in you’ve got to take that opportunity.

“That should be a motivating factor for everyone in the Academy whether you’re 12 or 13 or whatever. There is an opportunity. A pathway for a player is something they look at.”

It’s not just the under 23s who have been lifted, with those beneath them also making a step up the ladder.

Thompson added: “The coaches that have worked with them from a young age suddenly seeing them turning out for the first team, it’s a major motivating factor.

“It’s a long process, youth development doesn’t happen in five minutes. It takes time.

“But we’ve seen, certainly in the last four or five years, a big improvement in what we’re trying to do.”