Sheffield Wednesday: Deals show forward thinking

Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham City.....Owls Caolan Lavery after his second goal with Glenn Loovens and Lewis Buxton
Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham City.....Owls Caolan Lavery after his second goal with Glenn Loovens and Lewis Buxton
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Chris Kirkland and Stuart Gray have both spoken within the last week of their hopes that the Owls can have a real go next season, writes Paul Thompson.

By that they mean, of course, a challenge for the top six instead of a scrap to stay up.

If they were both in a succesful set-up then in further years they would probably see their faces somewhere in a gallery of classic photographs that graces one of Hillsborough’s corridors.

The wonderful snaps include celebrations of promotion under Jack Charlton and Howard Wilkinson; John Sheridan’s League Cup-winning goal at Wembley; Mark Bright’s FA Cup semi-final clincher against United and David Hirst’s equaliser in the final against Arsenal.

There is also one of Hirst’s goal at Kaiserslautern. Wow, when we will ever see Wednesday in Europe again?

Promotions under Paul Sturrock and Dave Jones take their place in the roll of honour but there is a long way to go if the club are to make the next upward step.

With 12 players coming out of contract this summer and the current, reborn squad swelled by several loan players, there is an element of uncertainty. The task of strengthening the squad looks formidable unless a way can be found to permit higher investment in players.

Gray has also spoken of the opportunity that this summer offers, because it will give him more of a chance to put his own stamp on the team.

He has done that already, to a large extent, and brought about a remarkable transformation.

Inevitably he has had to focus on the short term. To get the club out of the bottom three was his brief. He has done that and more, with a top-half finish now a realistic target.

But, amid the need for results this season, the process of building for the future has begun.

It is an encouraging foundation for those hopes of real progress when good young players can be tied to substantial contracts.

The deals for the first team’s new arrival, Caolan Lavery, and Liam Palmer, whose contract was not due to expire until next year, have been well earned and show that the club are thinking ahead, not just of the present.