Sheffield Wednesday: Owls starlet Wildsmith eager to carry on improving
A fiercely ambitious, incredibly driven young man.
That is probably the best way to describe Joe Wildsmith.
It has been quite a breakthrough season for the lifelong Owls supporter.
The academy graduate has proven to be an able deputy for Wednesday number one Keiren Westwood, chalking up five clean sheets in his 12 outings. His impressive development has culminated in him leapfrogging Lewis Price in the pecking order for a starting berth.
Wildsmith’s rapid progress and eye-catching performances resulted in him being elevated from the England Under-20 to 21 level last October.
After shrugging off a back problem, Wildsmith received his second call-up less than a fortnight ago. He only returned from international duty on Sunday night, having been an unused substitute in the young Lions’ European Championship qualifier against Switzerland in Thun. Wildsmith watched on from the away dug-out as England were held to a 1-1 draw.
While the 20-year-old enjoyed the experience, he is not content with being just a member of the squad.
Wildsmith told The Star: “The set-up is fantastic at Under-21 level. The standard is really high and we all push each other.
“Obviously we all want to play and there is really good competition. We’ve got good lads so it is very enjoyable when we all meet up.
“We have got a good bunch of lads and we have a laugh together and work hard in training.
“It was really good to get back with the group in Switzerland. It was nice to be involved and a brilliant experience.
“You are testing yourself against the best English players in the country at that age group.
“Some of those players have played at the highest level so it has showed me what I need to do and improve. It shows what I’ve got to aim for to push on.”
For Wildsmith, winning his first England U21 cap is at the top of his priority list.
“It would be brilliant to play for the U21s,” he conceded. “I’ve had a taste for it at U20 level and there’s no better feeling than playing for your country. It is just a massive privilege.
“It is an indication of what you are doing at club level so hopefully I can keep doing well for Wednesday and I will get the accolades at national team level.”
Against the Swiss, Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford got the nod in between the sticks.
Wildsmith added: “The draw was a good result away from home and keeps us top of the group.”