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Alan Biggs’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Time to make a move on Penney contract

Sheffield Wednesday's rising star Matt Penney
Sheffield Wednesday's rising star Matt Penney

How one inconsequential moment can get folk talking. It matters not that Matt Penney back-heeled the ball out of play as Sheffield Wednesday attacked Leeds early in last week’s 1-1 draw.

But it’s surprising how many people picked up on it in the approach to last night’s West Brom game (played after this was penned).

Why? Well, it’s unusual to see a supposed defender try an extravagant pass of its type.

And especially so, a youngster new to Wednesday’s team this season.

But there’s a third reason – we didn’t quite know how to react and still don’t.

Just as there’s confusion over whether the Owls should rush to reward and tie down the brilliant 20-year-old prospect or keep him grounded by making him continue to earn it.

I guess the back-heel still leaves us similarly divided.

Me? Did I like it? Well, yes AND no.

Taking the negative first, it was unnecessary and lost the Owls a bit of momentum with the ball going wide of its intended recipient and over the left hand touchline.

Now the positive.

We prefer players to be inventive and attempt stuff they presumably practice in training.

We like them to be confident.

Penney is certainly that. But did this cross into arrogance? Then again, a little of that is good.

Hence the confusion over one split-second of virtual nothingness. Hell, I’m writing a whole column on it.

Which means there has to be a personal view. I’ve changed my mind.

I didn’t like the back-heel – at the time. There were simpler, surer ways of keeping the attack in motion. Don’t get cocky, kid.

Now I see it differently – as an expression of a natural talent, not to mention sheer athleticism, that we see in abundance from a left back now turned (quite logically) into a left-side midfielder.

Had it been more accurate, Leeds would have been wide open down the left-hand touchline.

So let’s not cow Penney from trying things like that. It’s about picking his moment.

Same with the prospect of a new deal.

You don’t want to rush out and make youngsters comfortable too soon.

On the other hand, Wednesday simply can’t afford a repeat of the scenario that cost them George Hirst and Sean Clare.

Jos Luhukay will know best, from observing the lad’s attitude and temperament, what is right for the club. And let’s add, it’s also about what’s best for the player. Which isn’t necessarily an early grabbing of the game’s riches, whether it’s by a new deal or a transfer.

It’s obvious, though, that Penney will be on the radar of higher clubs.

So this column’s view is to get it sorted sooner rather than later – with a strong reminder of what brought him to attention and how he must maintain it.