Sheffield Wednesday: Fond farewell to promotion hero

Chris Lines' contract was cancelled by mutual consent
Chris Lines' contract was cancelled by mutual consent

Chris Lines’ exit from Hillsborough stems from Dave Jones’ need to let players go before he can bring others in.

Jones signalled in The Star a week ago that some people would be leaving to prevent the squad becoming overloaded and to make way for others that he wanted to sign.

Although the manager refused to name names, Lines was among those that sprang to mind - and the midfielder has duly left, by mutual consent, to join Port Vale.

It should suit all parties: if Lines knew that he was not going to be in the manager’s plans, the obvious solution for him was to seek first-team football elsewhere.

The fresh start is a new twist for a player who has had a roller-coaster ride in the last two years.

A £50,000 deal with Bristol Rovers - revealed by Gary Megson straight after a successful penalty shoot-out in a home League Cup tie against Blackpool in August, 2011 - brought a first big move for Lines after he has spent the whole of his career with his hometown club.

First under Megson, then under Jones, his cultured midfield play and 41 league appearances were important elements in the promotion campaign as the Owls achieved second place.

Jones began that summer feeling unsure sure whether Lines would be as big a force in the Championship.

But the player did so well in pre-season that he was in the team and he was looking forward to playing at this level for the first time.

Then in the final pre-season friendly, against West Brom at Hillsborough, he tore a groin and was not seen in the first team again until November.

He got back in the squad for seven games, including four starts, but Jones judged that he was not reproducing his pre-injury form; he lost his place, and his loan move to MK Dons followed.

But he will always be fondly remembered as one of the 2012 promotion heroes.