Sheffield Wednesday could get fringe benefits from promoting academy youngsters

Garry Monk says handing professional contracts to some of Sheffield Wednesday's most promising academy players is part of his long-term plan for the club, but admits it could have short-term benefits if the season runs beyond June.
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Defender Declan Thompson signed his first professional deal this month and 18-year-olds Luke Cox and Luke Jackson could follow.

Monk says it is a continuation of the thinking that saw Alex Hunt and Osaze Urhoghide make debuts this season, but it could be pragmatic too.

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YOUNGSTER: Alex Hunt made his debut this seasonYOUNGSTER: Alex Hunt made his debut this season
YOUNGSTER: Alex Hunt made his debut this season | pa

If the Football League succeeds in completing the Championship season as it hopes, there is no chance of doing so before June 30. That is significant because it is due to be Sam Hutchinson, Steven Fletcher, Morgan Fox, Fernando Forestieri, Joey Pelupessy, Kieran Lee, Atdhe Nuhiu, Sam Winnall, Jack Stobbs and Matt Penney's final day as Owls players unless new contracts are agreed.

There is a school of thought that because players receive a severance payment equivalent to a month's wages if they do not find a new club within 31 days of being released, this can be used to make them play in July, but nothing has yet been agreed. Premier League clubs have until June 23 to offer short-term deals until the end of an extended 2019-20, and having first proposed the idea, it is expected the Football League will follow suit, but players are not obliged to sign.

“There's no definite guidelines or definite input from the EFL yet on any stipulations of what you can do,” stressed Monk.

If nothing is resolved, youngsters like Thompson could be needed to complete the campaign.

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“The first thing is they deserve those contracts,” explained Monk when asked why deals were being handed out. “I’ve tried to assess all the young lads and have them training. A few have made it into the first team this season, and I think that's a bigger picture thing.

“I'm trying to promote those academy players, and they've done well this season, that's why they’ve received those contracts. But the other side of it is also to be prepared for anything, and if there are issues with players in the first-team environment, then we have people that can step in.

“It's not an ideal situation, but you have to try and cover for it as best as you can.”

Wednesday are set for a summer clear-out of the Championship's second-oldest squad. Fletcher and Fox were in contract talks before the coronavirus pandemic but even then it was doubtful if many of the others would be retained.

The Owls also have five players on loan until June.

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