In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from world football. This latest edition focuses on Sheffield Wednesday’s academy prospect George Hirst.
The son of Sheffield Wednesday legend David Hirst, George is following in his father’s footsteps and is starting to make a name for himself at Hillsborough. Like his Dad, the youngster is also a striker, however, that’s where the comparisons end. As Wednesday coach Lee Bullen says: “He plays in the same position as his dad but they are different types of players so it would be wrong for people to compare them.”
A strong finisher with both head and feet, his ability to hold the play up and link up with midfielders adds to his game, and during his youth career at the Owls, he has managed to combine his skills with a prolific goalscoring record throughout the age groups. Regularly making appearances for the Under-18s over the past couple of the seasons, he has seen opportunities come in the Under-21s and hasn’t faltered in his pursuits to make the step up, notably scoring against Steel City rivals Sheffield United.
Described as one of the most desired academy prospects in English football today, Hirst is starting to grab the attention of a number of Premier League sides. However, the striker is far from the finished article. At the tender age of 17, the 6ft 4ins teenager still has an awkward frame, and will need time to grow into his body before he finds himself on the fringes of the senior squad.
On top of impressing at club level, Hirst fully announced himself on the international stage last month when he made his debut for the Three Lions’ Under-17 squad in the Algarve Tournament during a 2-2 draw against Germany. After just 24 minutes, he had managed to hit the net twice to put England 2-0 to the good with his first being the pick of the goals, beating two defenders before slotting past the helpless goalkeeper.
What the experts say?
Sheffield Wednesday coach Lee Bullen: “He is a good finisher, he has been prolific at the levels he has played. He works hard and is probably one of the bigger players who play in his age group. His hold-up play looks good and he fully deserves his scholarship. George has to forge his own direction and continue to listen to the coaches he has been working with.”
Sheffield Wednesday youth coach Neil Thompson: “I remember watching George play in a game when he was 13. He is now six foot four and one of those players who is a bit gangly. But he is finding his body and it will connect in a year or two when everything feels comfortable.”
Where does the future lie?
Yet to sign pro terms, Wednesday chiefs will be hoping to tie the youngster down to professional terms when he turns 18, however they face stiff competition from Premier League giants for the academy hotshot.
With the Sheffield-born starlet regarded as one of the finest prospects in youth football, scouts from Chelsea, West Ham, Newcastle and Southampton have reportedly taken a keen interest in the striker, leaving the Owls with a fight to hold on to him.
With speculation mounting over his future, Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal hopes to see Hirst continue his development at Hillsborough, saying: “It’s in the hands of the chairman. I gave my opinion about the boy in September/October.
“George is a player that’s in the academy so I must be careful to talk about academy boys. You have to control expectations with a boy.”
If he was to stay, it will give him the best route to senior football, especially with his father’s strong reputation around the blue side of the city, which will leave the fans dreaming of another Hirst goal machine donning the number nine shirt in the future.
By Danny Roberts – @