DAVE Jones has confirmed Rhys McCabe’s return to the Sheffield Wednesday squad for tomorrow’s Hillsborough clash with Peterborough after his three-match absence with a thigh problem.
It puts the 20-year-old back in the spotlight as a member of the Owls’ young midfield set, along with Paul Corry, 21, Ross Barkley, 18, and Danny Mayor, 21.
But a relatively forgotten prospect is also in the manager’s thoughts: Liam Palmer, the 21-year-old from Worksop who is on loan at Tranmere but is progressing so well that Wednesday are to hold talks with him about a new contract.
His loan exit until January during the final year of his current deal led to fans wondering about his future - but the move was intended to add to his league experience and it seems to have paid off.
Jones has watched him twice recently, in Tranmere games against Bournemouth and Doncaster, and says: “He is doing very, very well.”
The Owls boss says Palmer was the reason for his recent presence at Prenton Park though there has been speculation linking him with Rovers’ 26-year-old left back Zoumana Bakayogo.
The focus on Palmer is all part of Jones’s building for the long term along with the drive for short-term results.
Corry and on-loan Barkley have forged a useful centre-midfield partnership, but McCabe did a good job alongside Barkley before he was injured.
Corry rather than McCabe is favourite to get the nod tomorrow in view of the team’s performance and result at Ipswich.
Anthony Gardner is all clear after suffering from the sickness bug that has afflicted several players recently and led to all the squad being kept away from the training ground on Wednesday.
The problem is now no worse than “a few upset tummies,” says Jones.
Chris Lines’s wish of a place on the bench is not likely to be granted so soon after his three-month lay-off with a groin injury, with Jones saying: “Chris has done really well. He’s still two or three weeks away from being up and running properly. It’s been a bit stiff and sore, which is going to happen. It was a nasty injury so we have to monitor it right.”
With Reda Johnson still out for weeks with a foot injury, it would be no surprise if, besides monitoring Palmer, the Owls did take an interest in Bakayogo as he has been starring for a side who are top of League One.
When pressed on the subject, Jones said: “He’s a good player. He’s been in and out for two three years, been there a long time. Give me any player and I’ll give you a rundown on him.
“He got in because someone else was injured and he’s done well, but last year he struggled and was in and out. We know every player and so we should. That’s why the chairman employs me: to try to find the best players. The best player when Tranmere played Donny was Rob Jones (ex-Owls captain). He headed everything, kicked everything. He was like a magnet in the box. I was talking to the Doncaster chairman, and Rob has been outstanding at that level for them, which we thought he would be.”
Jones added: “We want Liam to sign a new contract here, and before we let him out again or he stays here. We’d like to sit down and discuss it; that’s between me and him and Paul (Aldridge, vice-chairman) and his agent. We need to look at it now.”
Teams and ref
OWLS (possible): Kirkland, Buxton, Llera, Gardner, Jones, Semedo, Bothroyd, Barkley, Corry, Antonio, O’Grady. (4-1-4-1).
POSH (possible):Olejnik, Alcock, Birley, Knight-Percival, Little, Ntlhe, Bostwick, McCann, Tomlin, Boyd, Berahino. (5-3-2).
Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire): A 41-year-old sergeant in the RAF, he officiated last season at the Owls’ 3-0 home win against Exeter and 1-0 away win against Leyton Orient. In 12 games this season, he has shown 41 yellow cards and two red.