Could Sheffield Wednesday’s youngsters inspire a revival?

Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk often speaks about valuing experience and on-field leaders but he is also talking with increasing regularity about those players letting him down.
Sheffield Wednesday's Osaze Urhoghide. (Picture: Steve Ellis)Sheffield Wednesday's Osaze Urhoghide. (Picture: Steve Ellis)
Sheffield Wednesday's Osaze Urhoghide. (Picture: Steve Ellis)
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“If there are young players in the academy I’ll always try and find the pathway,” promised Monk recently, before cautioning: “It’s not straight-forward.”

The fear is that throwing inexperienced players into a side low on confidence weights the odds against them at sink-or-swim time. Such commendable caution could be counter-productive.

Owls youngster Alex Hunt gets away from City's Riyad Mahrez during an impressive cameo (Picture: Steve Ellis)Owls youngster Alex Hunt gets away from City's Riyad Mahrez during an impressive cameo (Picture: Steve Ellis)
Owls youngster Alex Hunt gets away from City's Riyad Mahrez during an impressive cameo (Picture: Steve Ellis)
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Just because it is more difficult does not mean you cannot succeed and with two Championship wins since Christmas, the Owls need something different.

Right-back Osaze Urhoghide greatly impressed in his first two senior appearances, January’s FA Cup win over Brighton and Hove Albion and league victory over Leeds United at Elland Road, but after his part in the 5-0 defeat that followed, Monk seemed to go cold. Urhoghide has only featured once since and a red card, plus Morgan Fox’s return to fitness, have kept him on the fringes.

Another 19-year-old, midfielder Alex Hunt, has only twice featured from the bench this season, in FA Cup ties. His solitary senior start was an August 2018 League Cup tie at Sunderland.

Hunt’s cameo against Manchester City suggests he could be worth a gamble at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Monk sees Hunt every day in training but so does Barry Bannan, and he is a fan.

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“I signed him for my agency three years ago,” he revealed. “He’s pretty similar to the way I play so I try to help him if I can.

“The way he passed the ball as a 17, 18-year-old caught my eye when he trained with us.

“My agent was asking if there were any young boys coming through.

“It’s difficult to play someone of his age the way the team’s going but he’s going to be a talent.”

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The Owls will have to rebuild along cheaper and presumably younger lines this summer and while it is no time for experimentation for experimentation’s sake – not when a points deduction over the sale of Hillsborough could drag them into a relegation battle – could Hunt be an upgrade? Could he be much worse?

It might be time to learn a bit more about him in the heat of competition.

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