Interesting this week to hear the father of Sheffield Wednesday’s most talked about prospect admit that even he had no idea if George Hirst was ready for a step up to senior football.
There are those who say he is and those who say he isn’t.
Some reckon if you’re good enough you’re old enough – and 40 goals in a season is more than enough to confirm both talent and potential, plus an imminent breakthrough.
Others maintain that Hirst junior still lacks the physical strength for the Championship and that to throw him in now might hinder his development in the long term.
What we can all agree is that ultimately there is only one way to settle the argument. Or maybe two.
Play him (looking remote at this time) or send him out on loan and begin the discovery process.
Bringing the whole Hirst debate into sharper focus is that development across the city where Sheffield United are now considering David Brooks, George’s England Under 20s team mate, for the first team before re-addressing the initial plan to loan him down the leagues.
Both players have – or are said to have – the same Premier League club on their tail.
Confirmed in the case of Hirst, regarding Everton. Rumoured very recently of Brooks.
Of other common denominators, there are plenty.
Few of the players who have shone for young England teams this summer, be it the Under 20s or 21s, are regulars for their clubs.
It’s so different from the days of Hirst senior, who, in his words, was “thrown in at the deep end” with Barnsley at 16 and bobbed up swimming strongly down to S6 and legendary status with Wednesday.
Hirst made a general rather than specific point when he told me on this week’s Ref Show, from you-are-the-ref.com : “I’m not talking about George, you hear it about other players: Is he ready? Well, we don’t know.
“There is one way of finding out.”
He added, also generically: “Clubs have got big squads these days and in the past they haven’t had, so I understand it.”
There is, as he further noted, more pressure on managers and less time for them to succeed, prompting a buying of ready-made players rather than “gambling” on youngsters.
So there is no right or wrong here.
We simply don’t know at this stage if this 18-year-old striker would add an extra edge to the hoped-for promotion challenge.
What we do know, or can at least surmise, is that forwards are the one type of player not pressingly on Wednesday’s hit list this summer.
There are enough good ones to spearhead the team, meaning that a couple on the fringe, Lucas Joao and Atdhe Nuhiu, could easily be considered expendable.
George Hirst could just squeeze in there in the not too distant future. And I think we’re all anxious to find out if he can cut it at that level.
Personally, I believe he can and will.
It’s all in the timing.