Sheffield Wednesday: Owls boss ponders loan signing

Striking out: Leroy Lita celebrates his goal at Charlton with Gary Madine, who is not leaving on loan
Striking out: Leroy Lita celebrates his goal at Charlton with Gary Madine, who is not leaving on loan
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DAVE Jones is pleased with the way that the new strike partnership between Leroy Lita and Michael Antonio is shaping up - but he is still not ruling out the signing of another loan striker.

The Wednesday boss also says that Gary Madine will not be leaving and contradicts claims that the striker turned down four clubs before the January window closed.

While Madine continues to face the task of trying to force his way into the side, on-loan Lita has scored in each of his first two games, and Antonio is top scorer and netted in last week’s 3-1 win against Brighton.

But the market for emergency loans opens today, and Jones says: “You never stop looking; you’re always looking to improve.

“If you’ve signed a senior player, look for a younger one; if you got a younger one, sign a senior one.

“The day you stop looking, somebody gets injured and you haven’t got enough back-up.”

Jones also talks about the need to plan long term and build up the club’s scouting and IT resources.

But in the short term, Antonio and Lita look certain to stay together for tomorrow’s visit of Derby, with Madine on the bench and hoping for a look-in.

Jones added: “They’ve played together twice, and we’ve won both games. It seems to be working for now.

“The more they get to know each other - and they’ll get that in training - then hopefully the more it will develop. We’ll look at other things in training. I hope things will develop with other strikers as well, so if we need to change it, we can do that.”

With Reda Johnson the only injured player, it looks sure to be an unchanged side tomorrow.

Jones admits that a foray into the loan market is “an option” and he is still looking to get “one or two” players out on loan - but not Madine, though he was linked with Swindon and Coventry last month.

The manager explained: “A lot has been said or written about Gary, We have never turned anybody down. He has never turned anybody down.

“He’s going to stay here and fight for his place. That was our decision. All the stories have come basically from rumours. There are one or two we’d like to get out. As for people coming in, we’ll monitor it. We’ll see if we pick up injuries or if the people we’re looking at are available, we’ll try to get them.”

Jones admitted that the Owls did consider a loan exit for Madine earlier in the season so he could get games: “We looked at that situation but we changed our minds. Three or four clubs have asked about him, but there wasn’t a decision to be made.

“If we reacted to every rumour that went around, we’d never be off the phone. But to put the record straight, Gary’s not going anywhere.”

Outgoing loans would give the players concerned match action and free funds to bring someone in.

Jones rates Madine as one of the best finishers in the club but says efforts are continuing to increase his strength.

Robbie Fowler’s stay ended 10 days ago, said Jones. The former England striker trained with the club to get fit and pick up tips as he ponders a career in coaching and management. Jones, a friend of the ex-Cardiff star, also thought it would be a good idea for the Wednesday strikers to see how he finishes in front of goal.

Another departure is Jeffrey Sarpong, the former Real Sociedad and Ajax player who has been on trial.

It was hoped he would play in an under 21 game last week, but final clearance from his previous club could not be obtained; then he was due to appear in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Blackpool on Tuesday but that was called off.

“We just couldn’t get him into a game,” said Jones. “We’ll probably send him back and look at it another time.”