Dom Howson column: Young guns grasp their chance

George Hirst

George Hirst

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There is a promising crop of exciting, young, hungry players coming through Sheffield Wednesday’s youth system.

Supporters love nothing more than seeing one of their own pull on the blue-and-white shirt and run out at Hillsborough.

And Cameron Dawson is the latest local lad to come through the ranks and represent the Owls. The young goalkeeper has performed admirably in his three outings this month.

Wednesday look in good shape for years to come in the goalkeeping department, with Dawson and Joe Wildsmith, who is currently injured, having established themselves in the senior set-up.

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Throughout his time in charge, boss Carlos Carvalhal has always shown he is prepared to promote youth. He handed debuts to George Hirst, the son of Owls legend David, and midfielder James Murphy in their EFL Cup loss away to Cambridge United earlier this season. He fielded Connor O’Grady from the start in the tie too and the centre-back repaid his faith by putting in a solid performance.

“It is nice to see, as a local lad myself, other guys getting a chance,” Dawson told me. “Fans like to see local lads in the team.

“When the guys do come through, you have got to really deliver and really prove your worth.

“Hopefully the youngsters will carry on doing the business and carry on getting chances to show what they can do.”

Of all the kids aiming to force their way into Carvalhal’s first-team plans. Hirst is probably at the front of the queue. He continues to flourish for the Under-18s and the development squad, scoring goals on a consistent basis.

From what I have seen of Hirst, the striker is an excellent prospect and Wednesday’s coaching staff, understandably, have high hopes for him but it is vital he is not fast-tracked into the senior set-up too soon. People should just allow him to carry on developing at his own pace.

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The production line shows no sign of slowing down. Jack Stobbs, Matt Penney, Warren Clarke and Devante Rodney also have good potential.

Liam Palmer, Dawson and Wildsmith are leading the charge, but it has to be said it has taken a while to get to this point. The Owls academy has had few success stories over the last decade.

When it comes to bringing youngsters through, it is an area where they have been way out-performed by their neighbours and arch rivals Sheffield United for some time, but there are signs that the balance of power may be shifting ever so slightly.

Dawson acknowledged: “There’s no doubt about it that Sheffield United have produced some very good players in the last 10 years.

“Now we are starting to do really well in our own right. We are starting to get some players through and have a big push in the academy which is nice to see.”

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