Sheffield Wednesday: Three areas the new Owls owner must address

Owls goalkeeper Chris Kirkland
Owls goalkeeper Chris Kirkland

New owner Hafiz Mammadov will have to work quickly this summer to turn Sheffield Wednesday from a mid-table Championship club into genuine promotion contenders.

The fixtures for the 2014/15 Football League season will be released next Wednesday at 9am and the Owls players will begin pre-season training on July 1, with the new campaign kicking off on Saturday, August 9.

Time is running out for Owls head coach Stuart Gray to assemble a squad equipped to compete in the upper echelons of the division.

Here are three issues Mammadov must look to address immediately:

1) Out-of-contract players

Offers were made to senior players Chris Kirkland, Oguchi Onyewu, Glenn Loovens and Jose Semedo last month and the club are still waiting to learn whether the quartet will commit their long-term futures to the Hillsborough outfit. All four featured prominently in the second half of last season as the Owls staved off the threat of relegation. If they decide to move on, Kirkland and Loovens will be particularly hard to replace. Are they staying or going?

2) New additions

Reinforcements are urgently required as Wednesday lack strength in depth in all departments, having recently released eight players, including Jermaine and Reda Johnson. Three youngsters: Matt Young, Ed Sanders and Ryan Croasdale, have been recruited but they should be regarded as ones for the future.

Whereas rivals Rotherham have wasted no time in strengthening their side, Gray has been forced to bide his time in the transfer market and wait for the takeover to be finalised. Now that the deal has been completed, it is important Mammadov provides Gray with significant funds to improve the team.

3) Gray’s future

Mammadov needs to remove any uncertainty there might be surrounding Gray’s position at his press conference. Gray is a good, honest, hard-working individual who has proved his worth. He deserves to know where he stands.