KEITH Hill hopes Sheffield Wednesday’s supporters get behind Nile Ranger, describing the troubled striker as an “outstanding talent”.
The 20-year-old played four times under Barnsley boss Hill earlier on in the season before an ankle injury curtailed his loan spell at Oakwell.
Off-the-field issues have blighted Ranger’s progress throughout his fledgling career but Hill is backing the Newcastle United player to shine under the tutelage of Owls chief Dave Jones.
“Everything that has been portrayed in the press about Nile is not the truth,” Hill told The Star. “He has got outstanding talent. He’s still such a young boy
and people have got to remember that. He’s going to make mistakes but he’s a talented player. Nile’s a team player and he is no trouble whatsoever. I just hope people give the boy a chance.
“It is like anybody in any walk of life; you’ve got to learn from making mistakes, and I’m sure Nile is learning from his.
“It is unfortunate he will always get tarnished with his off-the-field trouble. But he is maturing and I’m sure he is going to develop into an even better footballer.”
It was against West Ham that Ranger picked up his ankle problem, a knock which kept the skilful attacker on the sidelines for 12 weeks.
“I had a good spell at Barnsley,” he said. “Keith and David Flitcroft are good lads. They brought me along, trusted me to go there and they gave me games, which I really needed. The injury killed me. I had a ligament damage and bone bruising after Papa Diop landed on my leg.”
Ranger, who learned of Wednesday’s interest only four hours before last Thursday’s emergency loan deadline, made his debut as a substitute in the 1-0 victory at Leyton Orient.
“I could probably have had at least two goals,” he said. “The lads kept me going.
“They said ‘we know it’s hard when you come on, off the bench, but keep going, push yourself’.”