Sheffield Wednesday: Academy ace Wildsmith expected to start Owls friendly

Joe Wildsmith
Joe Wildsmith

Joe Wildsmith looks set to start in between the sticks for Sheffield Wednesday in their opening pre-season friendly against Alfreton Town tonight.

With Keiren Westwood having been given extra time off to rest after being away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland over the summer, Wildsmith will be looking to shine at the Impact Arena, kick-off 7:30pm.

The academy graduate burst on to the scene last season, making 14 appearances as the Owls fell agonisingly short of securing promotion to the Premier League.

His rapid development saw him receive two England Under-21 call-ups, although he has yet to earn a cap.

Carlos Carvalhal, the Wednesday boss, is a big fan of Wildsmith, claiming the 20-year-old possesses all the attributes to reach the top.

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“Joe is a very, very good goalkeeper,” admitted Carvalhal. “He has a big, big future.”

Wildsmith may not be the only youngster who gets a run-out versus Alfreton. It is understood George Hirst, the son of Owls legend David, has been training with the first-team squad in pre-season. George, who featured prominently at Under-18 level last campaign, penned his maiden pro contract in March, committing his future to the Championship club until 2018.

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Wednesday fans are also expected to see Steven Fletcher in action for the first time since the Scotland international moved to Hillsborough on a free transfer following his release by Sunderland.

The forward, who has never previously plied his trade in the second-tier of English football before, said: “The players are working hard, we’ve got a few pre-season games coming up and that is something to look forward to.”

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