Sheffield Wednesday: Loan aces can be deadly duo
IT MADE me smile the other day when Colchester’s Freddie Sears was likening his partnership with Jabo Ibehre to that of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen.
I can see where he was coming from: regardless of the level at which you are operating, the presence of two strikers who have a good understanding and complement each other can be enjoyable for them and invaluable to their team.
Maybe Wednesday have hit upon that kind of alliance, with Connor Wickham and Leroy Lita in their ranks.
How long it will last is anybody’s guess.
It is conceivable, though I guess unlikely, that seven of the side that started against Derby may not be at Hillsborough next season, as they are either on loan or out of contract this summer: Lewis Buxton, Jeremy Helan, Danny Pugh, Lita, David Prutton, Giles Coke and Miguel LLera; and Wickham, who went on as a sub, is a loan player.
I am sure that the club will want to keep at least some of those, and let’s get this season and Championship safety settled first, before it is all sorted out, but the position does hint at the work on contracts or signings that will have to be completed by the time next season kicks off.
It will not be the first time that Dave Jones has had to wheel and deal; he hinted once again, after the Derby game, that he feels Wednesday, in relying heavily on free transfers and loans, are at a disadvantage when compared to the division’s big spenders - but he has worked on that sort of basis almost all through his career and I have never heard him complain about his lot at Hillsborough.
With his three latest signings, Wickham, Lita and Danny Pugh, he seems to have shown once again an ability to pull good players, though not all of his signings have come off.
Wickham is currently in the most uncertain position of all, as no-one knows whether he will be heading back to Sunderland in three weeks’ time when his initial spell on loan ends, or whether Martin O’Neill will agree to extend it, assuming Wednesday will want to keep him.
All the signs are that Wickham, a big, strong, young target man, and Lita, a crafty, experienced goal-getter, should be a useful partnership, especially when the Owls will have pace on the flanks to support them, with Michail Antonio, Jeremy Helan, Jermaine Johnson - who is out of contract this summer - and Kieran Lee among the midfield options, and energetic full backs who can get forward: I’m thinking of Lewis Buxton and Reda Johnson, when he is fit.
Pugh brings his own qualities - with that left-foot delivery from set pieces the most eye-catching of them.
Players keep remarking about the great spirit in the camp. I must say that Chris Maguire seemed to personify it in the reserves’ game against Blackpool.
You might think that his heart wouldn’t be in it, as he has failed to get the first-team chance for which he yearned, but he was full of running besides scoring two good goals: a shot into the bottom corner from a ball by Jermaine Johnson, and a free kick similarly despatched.
Another free kick by Maguire was kept out of the top corner by a good save, which denied him a hat-trick and Wednesday a 5-2 win.
Maybe he was playing as much to impress watching representatives from other clubs as well Owls staff,
and there were others who perhaps were in the shop window.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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