SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Beevers deal ignites Owls battle for places

Orient v Sheffield Wednesday......Owls Rob Jones

Orient v Sheffield Wednesday......Owls Rob Jones

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MARK Beevers’ signing of a new contract will contribute towards intense competition for places at Hillsborough.

As things stand the Owls have Beevers, Anthony Gardner, Miguel Llera, Rob Jones and arguably Reda Johnson challenging for two centre-half places - and boss Dave Jones

wants to bring in one more centre-back.

It also raises the question of whether someone will be on the way out - an issue that applies to other areas of the team.

Even amid the post-promotion celebrations the Wednesday manager said that some players would come and some would go, though obviously without naming names or specifying positions.

Totting up the numbers and working out the centre-back equation depends on whether or not Johnson is viewed as a player for this position or as a left-back, something that Jones so far has kept to himself.

The Benin international regards himself as mainly a centre-half, but he enjoyed getting forward and scoring goals and was happy to do a job for the team at full-back, where he showed his best form since he joined the club.

The manager is in a good position to judge. He too played in both positions during his career, and in the top flight, for Everton.

Beevers, aged 22, is another who can fill either of the two roles, but in his case the distinction seems much clearer. He is a centre half; that is his best position, and where he is likely to be primarily in contention, though he has shown he can do a job at left-back.

Rob Jones, like Gardner and Llera, is an out-and-out centre-half, and his heading ability, no-nonsense style and leadership were big assets over many months of the promotion campaign.

But the skipper lost his place near the end of the season and then could not get back in, because of Danny Batth and Llera.

There must be some uncertainty over whether he will be handed a place next season, but he is such a wholehearted and determined character that it would be foolish to write him off completely.

Batth was a success in League One in his first full season of league football but has not been a transfer target this summer, with Dave Jones planning for a Championship campaign and showing part of his hand when he brought in Gardner, regarding the ex-England centre-half highly for his ability and pedigree in the Premier League and Championship.

Gardner looks a certain starter. Will Llera, who was outstanding in the last few weeks of a League One campaign, be judged by the boss as a Championship player? That is an unanswerable question at the moment.