SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY teenager Jack Lee has revealed that some tough love from fellow utility man Sam Hutchinson is reaping rewards for him.
The Sunderland-born player made his full debut in Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup exit to Wolves and acquitted himself well in the heart of midfield.
Having joined the Owls academy as a centre-back in 2015, Lee has also shown his proficiency as a deep-lying midfielder – while also displaying character after being hit by some recurring injuries during his time at the club.
The 19-year-old says that some words of encouragement from Hutchinson to lift his spirits during spells on the sidelines represent something he will always be grateful for, along with some constructive criticism.
Lee said: “Sam Hutch’ had a lot of injuries when he was young and he has really helped me mentally and really talks to me. He has played midfield and centre-back and knows both roles. He is perfect to learn from.”
On a few harsh words at times, he added: “I would not have it any other way. I think I learn best when people are harsh with me; I do not want anybody going around me and being all ‘nicey-nicey’. I want to be told what I am doing wrong to try and improve.”
Lee, one of eight academy players aged 21 or under who were named in the midweek squad, said: “Personally and as a team, it is massive – playing against a Premier League side and men and not Under-23 teams. It is physically and mentally challenging. You have to play much quicker.
“I was buzzing and it was a dream come true. Every boy’s dream is to be a professional footballer and to get my first start – at Hillsborough as well – means it could not have got much better, apart from the win really.
“I felt I did well, although it was hard work. I covered a lot of ground, I know that.”
On the input in his development of head coach Jos Luhukay, who has put great stock in providing a pathway for academy players to the first-team squad, Lee added: “The gaffer spoke to me in pre-season and said ‘You have got a great chance here and just keep going.’ He has been top-drawer.”
Wednesday have been handed a major boost with the news that talismanic midfielder Barry Bannan has signed a two-year contract extension, taking him up to the end of the 2021 season.