Wildsmith Shows Real Character
I think we always knew we had a top young keeper on our hands in Joe Wildsmith but he`s really been proving his worth to us since stepping up as our number one stopper in the absence of Keiren Westwood. Westwood is a tough act to follow after all as he`s proven himself to be one of the best outside the top flight consistently since joining Wednesday on a free transfer.
Joe is 22 years old and has so far represented Wednesday at senior level on 34 occasions, collecting 12 clean sheets in the process. That is a damn good record for a keeper just making his way into the first team picture. Due to Westwood`s absence Joe has started our last 10 league games and he has managed to amass 4 clean sheets from this run. While clean sheets are a product of everyone working together defensively, Joe has been the stand out performer for us of late.
Whoscored.com are stats experts who develop ratings from over 200 raw statistics. They had Wildsmith as the best keeper in the division in January and that just goes to show how well he is doing and how quickly he`s progressing. We`ve seen Joe pull of some superb saves over the last few weeks, showing great reflexes and reactions. He`s also become a much more commanding presence in his area too.
Against Birmingham we saw Joe make an error for Jota`s goal. It`s hard to say whether any blame should be put his his direction for the opener as it was a mix up that saw Frederico Venancio take the ball away from him which then allowed David Davis to pounce. While people may be thinking it`s negative to talk about these "mistakes" it really isn`t and here`s why.
After those mistakes, there were a few fans who took to ironically cheering Joe when he made a save. People also did their usual of overreacting about it on social media, as you`d expect. It would have been quite easy for this to knock Joe`s confidence going into our next game against Barnsley, especially as it was deemed a big game against a side also battling at the wrong end of the table.
That wasn`t the case though as once again we saw a masterclass in goalkeeping by Wildsmith, who looked back to his best. He made three real top draw saves, two from Tom Bradshaw and one from Oliver McBurnie, to keep Barnsley at bay. Wildsmith showed real character to bounce back after a disappointing outing against Birmingham and has set a great example for his teammates in my opinion.
Wednesday right now need character. They need players to fight and give their all no matter what. When you`re battling at the wrong end of the table it doesn`t always come down to ability to get you safe but to the character you show and the willingness to fight for the points and the shirt.
The goalkeeping position is one where mistakes are costly and all eyes are on you but Wildsmith has shown he has the ability to bounce back and keep bouncing back. He`s showing not only superb abilities and form but that he`s got the character and desire to help us move up the table. Others should take note.