Sheffield Wednesday: ‘Crazy’ league frightens JJ

Jermaine Johnson turns past Blackburn Rovers Josh Morris.
Jermaine Johnson turns past Blackburn Rovers Josh Morris.
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THE unpredictability of the Championship scares Jermaine Johnson.

As we enter that pivotal ‘squeaky bum time’, as many as 15 sides could still go down.

“The first time I looked at the table was Saturday,” said Johnson. “It is really frightening and that’s why I don’t look at it!”

The Jamaican international, out of contract in the summer, delivered arguably his best performance of the season in the 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers, capping a superb individual display with two goals either side of half-time.

“It was a big victory for us because we are both fighting to stay in the league,” he conceded. “I was really pleased with myself and the performance of the team but we have got to keep our feet on the ground.”

Since returning from international duty, Johnson has starred as the Owls have accrued seven points from their last three league matches. He regards his second goal against Rovers, which took his tally for the season to six, as one of the best of his Wednesday career.

He said: “It was a special goal. I was really surprised when it went in as it was from way out. I was practising it in Jamaica. It paid off in the game so I was really happy. I practised it loads of times and it came off for me.”

Johnson had to be taken off after 52 minutes of Wednesday’s draw at Bristol City on Easter Monday due to fatigue.

“At Bristol, I tried to run and every time I ran I felt like I was going to be sick,” said Johnson, who is desperate to earn a new contract. “I told the gaffer to take me off. It was the travelling. I wanted to play on but I couldn’t. It was hard for me to come off but it was good for the team to get someone fresh on.”

The 32-year-old feels refreshed for the final six matches of the campaign after seeing his family in Jamaica.

“It was nice to see them,” said Johnson. “I hadn’t seen them since February so it was great to see them again. I saw my son. It really lifted my spirits again.”

Johnson is aiming to persuade Owls manager Dave Jones for the second successive season to offer him a new contract, pledging to do all he can to help the club retain their Championship status.

“I don’t want to leave the team,” he said. “I am really enjoying the fans, the staff and players here. I think this is my home, apart from Jamaica, so I’m happy.

“I think I am a nice person so the fans take to me more than other players. I always try to give my best for the team. I want to score every game and try to help the team.”

If Wednesday avoid the drop, Johnson sees no reason why they can’t mount a promotion charge next term.

“This is a learning curve but if we stay up I think we are going to challenge for play-offs next season,” he said. “Everyone is positive and wants to do well. Everyone wants to do better next season for the fans as well.

“For me, with the team we have and, if we get more players in, then I think we will be fighting for the play-offs.”

Jones has rejected claims Johnson is a really inconsistent performer, saying: “Because of the type of player he is, teams will shut him down.

“The beauty of JJ is that you can play him in a couple of positions so the opposition don’t know where he is going to play or where he is going to pop in.”

The Owls boss thinks they need a minimum of two more wins to get out of trouble.

“You would have thought you would have been safe with 50 points but that’s not the case,” he said. “It is such a strong division this year. It is going to take a record points tally to stay in it.

“We are four points off tenth spot which is crazy.

“We are not out of it [relegation] yet. We have still got a long way to go. It’s in our hands. We are the ones in the driving seat. It is what we do and we are not relying on anybody else. That’s the best way to have it.

“Until it is mathematically impossible for anybody to catch us, we have to keep going. You can’t take your foot off the gas in this division. Everybody will be looking at 56 to maybe 57 points.”