Sheffield Wednesday: Gray banks on loans to aid kids

Caolan Lavery, pictured during last week's game against Bolton, benefited from his spell with Plymouth
Caolan Lavery, pictured during last week's game against Bolton, benefited from his spell with Plymouth

Stuart Gray has revealed that he is not a fan of under 21 football and told why he regards the loan market as a valuable aid to the development of young players.

The Owls boss also feels that producing young talent is becoming more important as the financial gap between the Premier Legaue and the rest widens and it becomes harder to make affordable signings.

“I think the game has changed; all the money is in the Premier League and is not filtering down,” he says,

“All the clubs in the Championship will be scrapping for the same players; it’s going to be down to pound notes, in the end.

“But the younger players can see that there could be an opportunity for them if they are good enough.

“I don’t think the Under 21 league is working; the players are around 18 or 19 and have been playing against each other since they were 14 or 15.

“Jack Stobbs probably found it a bit different when he made his debut for us last Saturday, because he as playing against a man.

“That’s when young players realise what it takes to be a top professional, and you’re playing against someone who is physically stronger than you.

“If it happens again for Jack, he’s got to think a bit differently - ‘do I drive inside the defender, or outside?’

“That’s where the loan market helps, with the younger boys.

“Sometimes an Under 21 game at one o’cloak doesn’t matter very much - though obviously you want to win. “But Saturday afternoon, playing in front of 5,000 or 6,000 fans, that’s the experience the young players really need.”

Teenager Stobbs and other young Owls players could be earmarked to go out on loan when the time is right.

Liam Palmer, who went to Tranmere, and Caolan Lavery, who was a hit at Plymouth, are among examples of a young players who have benefited from loan moves.

Palmer says: “You’re going out into the unknown - Sheffield Wednesday was all I’d ever known; Tranmere is not a million miles away, but a fair distance from home, at the time I don’t think I realised how big it was going to turn out to be and what it would do for me.”

Owls winger Danny Mayor has done so well in his season with Bury that they are buying him, on a three-year contract.

Wednesday could be at least recouping the £25,000 they paid Preston for him two years ago.