Sheffield Wednesday: Bywater backing Owls for play-off bid in fond farewell

Keeper Stephen Bywater

Keeper Stephen Bywater

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Departing Owls keeper Stephen Bywater is tipping his ex club for the play-offs.

Bywater has joined Championship rivals Millwall on a two-year contract but said Wednesday have the makings of a top side.

“I thought we were a bit unlucky last year not to make the play-offs, if I’m honest,” he said.

“There were a few things that went against us and with a bit of luck we could have been challenging. The manager (Dave Jones) is a phenomenal man-manager and I can’t think of a better person to be in charge.

“I think he’ll look at what he needs (for the coming season) and sign a few players and make a few changes, but that squad is already very good.”

Bywater said the opportunity to play for former teammate Steve Lomas at the New Den was something he couldn’t turn down. “I know Steve from our time at West Ham,” he explained.

“Wednesday offered me a deal and Millwall did. I just thought I’d try something new, a change of scenery.”

Bywater initially joined the Owls on loan in September from Cardiff City under Gary Megson before making the move permanent in the January transfer window of 2012.

He made 32 league appearances in the promotion-winning campaign and said the last match of the season against Wycombe Wanderers at Hillsborough was one of the highlights of his career.

“To play in a packed stadium of 38,000 people when only 500 or so are from the opposition is very rare for any footballer,” he said.

“It was a fantastic experience and I can’t thank everyone at the club enough.

“The fans are magnificent, as are the players, coaching staff and everyone else who works there.”

Although it was Megson who signed him, Bywater reserved special praise for Jones.

He said: “The way he manages people is superb.

“Even if you’re not involved in the team, he makes you feel wanted. I’ve absolutely no complaints about the manager.”

While Bywater was heading south another former Owl was starting life across the Pennines at Bolton.

Full-back Hayden White’s move to the Trotters was finalised yesterday after a compensation package was agreed between the clubs.