Jones hopes to be loan arranger

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As the Championship closes down for two weeks for the international break, Sheffield Wednesday’s players will no doubt be glad of the opportunity to grab a few days of rest and relaxation.

“We’ll give the players a little break,” manager Dave Jones said.

“We’ll have them in for a couple of days, then give them a couple off to recharge their batteries.

“We’ve got an U21 game against Leeds, and we’ll make sure that the players get physically and mentally ready for that final push.”

Jones, however, can’t afford the luxury of a day off.

Instead, the Owls boss is focusing his efforts on scouring the loan market, in the hope of strengthening his depleted forward line.

Top-scorer Michail Antonio is the biggest blow, and will miss the remainder of the season with a groin injury.

Striker Connor Wickham has returned to Sunderland, and on-loan striker Chris O’Grady cannot be recalled from his loan spell at Barnsley - although he is not eligible to feature when the two relegation rivals meet on March 30.

The loan market slams shut after that game, and Jones said: “Sometimes it’s just a waiting game with loans. We’ve asked the question about a few players - we’ve been knocked back a couple of times, and a few others have said come back in a few days.

“We can look for more than one loan signing if need me. Of course it’s a blow to lose Michail, but it’s happened now and there’s nothing we can do about it so we have to move on.

“We go with what we feel is right - at this stage, there’s no point just adding to the squad. They need to do something for us.”

After five games against sides all in the Championship’s top six places, the Owls must now prepare themselves for a different type of challenge against David Flitcroft’s Barnsley, before travelling to Bristol City on Easter Monday.

“Everybody in the league has something to fight for now,” Jones said.

“There’s a lot of clubs being dragged into it, so it’s like a mini-season now.

“We targeted 8-9 points from those five games and we came away with six, so we now know what’s needed.

“Of course, two games in three games is hard, so we’ll have to utilise our squad.

“But they’re all difficult games in this league.”

Jermaine Johnson could replace Antonio against Barnsley, but Gary Madine could come into contention to partner Leroy Lita.