CHRIS Maguire has revealed that he turned down chances to go out on loan because he wanted to challenge for his Sheffield Wednesday place.
The opportunities came after he recovered from the knee injury that cost him an October loan return to Portsmouth, where, as a Derby player, he had a temporary spell last season.
“There were a few options for me to go on loan,” he confirmed. “I didn’t think it was right for me to go to the clubs I was asked to go to: I would rather stay here and fight to get into the team, and keep working hard in training.”
The 24-year-old Scot’s hope that his time will come spotlights one of the enigmas of the season.
He was bought for decent money (around £200,000) from Derby in the summer but his only starts have been in four cup ties.
His appearance from the bench in the Cardiff game last Saturday was the first time he had been seen in league action since he went on as a sub against Birmingham in the third match of the season.
He has been an unused sub eight times, but has been on the bench only twice since the team’s revival began in mid-December.
Dave Jones has always had the same answer when asked about players who seem not to have been given a chance.
The Owls boss says that players do get a chance, because he sees them on every training day; they have an opportunity every time they walk out on the field at Middlewood.
He will never go into specifics about why someone is not getting into the team. But he clearly implies that those who are not involved are not doing well enough to justify him picking them, and must do better if they are to earn places.
There has never been any question mark about Maguire’s attitude: both he and the manager would agree on that.
On a couple of occasions when I have seen him play for the reserves, he has looked sharp and eager, and he has scored a few goals.
After he went on as a 77th minute sub last Saturday, taking the place of the injured Michail Antonio on the left flank, he took the corner that presented Anthony Gardner with a late chance.
Maguire admits: “I was a bit surprised to get on the pitch. It was nice to get into the game. I don’t think I did myself any harm. I still need to try and impress.”
He sympathises with Antonio, who is out for the season: “It’s unfortunate. That’s football. I’m sure there are players who have been big for other teams and have gone out because of injury.
“It’s a team game. When someone gets injured. other people will be trying to show they should be rewarded with a place.”
There is a certainly a common cause at Hillsborough: attempting to secure Championship safety over the final nine games.
Says Maguire: “Every game between now and the end of the season will be like a cup final. We have to win the games and climb that table. The only way we’ll do it is if we all work together.
“I’m sure there is enough quality in the squad.”
Meanwhile, youngsters are being given the chance to enjoy fun-filled football sessions at the Owls’ training ground, in Middlewood Road, during the Easter holiday.
The scheme runs from Monday, April 2, to Friday, April 12 and is open to children of all abilities, aged five to 14.
To book, call 0114 2212215 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Follow Paul Thompson on Twitter: @TommoOwls.