Sheffield Wednesday: Injury-hit Owls could turn to next generation

Jack Stobbs.
Jack Stobbs.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that highly-rated Sheffield Wednesday winger Jack Stobbs could make his senior debut in their final home match of the season.

With Championship safety secured and a lengthy injury list, head coach Stuart Gray is contemplating fielding some of Wednesday’s promising youngsters in Saturday’s encounter with Bolton Wanderers.

As well as Stobbs, Franck Betra, Taylor McKenzie and Paul Corry, an unused substitute in Monday’s 3-2 defeat to Charlton Athletic, are in contention to feature, should Gray decide to give youth a chance, as the Owls look to halt a three-match winless run at Hillsborough.

It was just over a month ago Stobbs penned his maiden professional contract. The Star understands the 17-year-old, who has been on the Owls books since the age of eight, signed a two-year deal. Having impressed at Under-18 level, the teenager has been promoted to the development squad.

Coach Lee Bullen said: “He’s got a bright future if he continues to work hard and keeps doing the things we are asking him to do.

“Jack has earned a pro contract a year early and rightly so but the hard work starts now. The kid is only 17 so we don’t want to put too much presssure on him.

“We have told him to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground.”

Stobbs said it was the “proudest day” of his life and a “dream come true” to pen a contract with Wednesday. He also thanked his mum and dad for their backing.

He added: “The guys at the academy have been absolutely brilliant with me. They have always drilled home the importance of showing the right attitude to help with your football and I have taken that advice on board.”

So are there any plans to send Stobbs on loan next year to speed up his development?

“I think Jack needs another year in the system to make sure we look after him,” said Bullen, who works with the club’s under-21 side and the first-team players. “Potentially, there is no reason why he couldn’t go out [on loan] if he continues to progress the way he has been doing. It’s something we may look at but not in the short-term.”

Talks are on-going between Wednesday and Betra’s representatives, with the French forward’s deal set to run out in the summer.

Bullen, the former Owls skipper, said: “Franck enjoys playing here and we are desperate for him to stay with us. We are speaking to his agent and doing our best to keep him but it just depends on what his agent is looking for.”