Sheffield Wednesday: Young guns ready for FA Youth Cup mission

Coach Neil Thompson, left, and Steven Halsam
Coach Neil Thompson, left, and Steven Halsam

Wednesday’s youngsters will be bidding to impress when they take on Luton Town in the FA Youth Cup today.

The Owls’ Under-18s go into the third round tie, which will be staged at Hillsborough, kick-off 1pm, full of confidence following back-to-back league victories over Birmingham City and Barnsley.

Promising Wednesday starlets, including Dan Wallis, Jack Lee, Connor Kirby, Jordan Lonchar, Fraser Preston and George Hirst, who made his senior debut as a substitute in Wednesday’s EFL Cup defeat to Cambridge United back in August, could all be involved.

Academy manager Dean Ramsdale told The Star: “The FA Youth Cup is great for the kids and it is the pinnacle at that age.

“It is an exciting competition and, ultimately, is one they will remember forever. If you talk to senior players now, they still remember the games they played in the FA Youth Cup.

“All of the boys want to play in the game. It’s a cup game so anything can happen. If we play well, we will be alright. Hopefully luck will go our way.

“If we don’t win, it won’t be the end of the world. It is about us and getting players who will play at Hillsborough week in, week out in the first-team.”

Steve Haslam’s side have failed to reach the fourth round of the tournament since 2013, losing to Stoke City and Swansea City in each of the last two seasons.

“It has not been a competition which has been particularly good for Sheffield Wednesday,” admitted Ramsdale. “I have been lucky as an academy manager to have good results in the Youth Cup.

“When I was at Preston, we beat Manchester City the year after they won it and we beat West Brom and Sunderland too.

“At Wednesday, we beat Crystal Palace at home on penalties. The one against Stoke wasn’t particularly great but we were unlucky against Swansea last year. That game could have gone either way.”

Neil Thompson, the Development Squad boss, is refusing to take Luton lightly.

“Everybody wants to see the team doing well but Luton will give us a good challenge,” said Thompson, pictured inset. “We have had them watched so it will be difficult.

“It would be a boost for the club if we had a good run.

“It’s great for the young players that they will get an opportunity to play at Hillsborough. I’ve played and managed in a lot of cup games in my time and it does affect players differently. It shall be interesting to see how the boys go.

“The Under-18s are on a good little run at the moment but we have to be mindful of how much game time they have. We have a small U23s team so the 18s play a lot at that level so we have to manage their workload.”

Tickets for the tie are priced at £3 adults and £2 concessions.