First signs of summer!

Uncertain future: Jermaine Johnson is out of contract at Hillsborough in the summer.
Uncertain future: Jermaine Johnson is out of contract at Hillsborough in the summer.

THE subject of summer recruitment figured prominently at Sheffield Wednesday’s Middlewood training ground yesterday.

While Gary Megson has decisions to make over a clutch of out of contract players, including midfield trio Tommy Miller, James O’Connor and Jermaine Johnson, the Owls boss also has to identify the areas of his squad he needs to strengthen to turn the club into promotion challengers.

Having replaced Alan Irvine in the managerial hotseat two months ago, Megson has shrewdly utilised the loan market, bringing in Danny Batth, Rob Jones, Joey O’Brien and Lee Nicholls, but the former West Bromwich Albion and Bolton Wanderers chief has not yet had chance make any permanent acquisitions.

Megson and his backroom staff have carried out a detailed assessment of the players at Hillsborough. He is acutely aware he has to rectify the team’s deficiencies and turn around the club’s flagging fortunes. He accepts he will be judged on results.

Having setup a scouting system, Megson knows he has to locate and sign players who will turn Wednesday into a genuine force again.

Wednesday number two Chris Evans is confident Megson has the contacts, knowledge and expertise to bring in the players required to help get the club out of League One.

Evans, who has spoken to 200 agents since arriving at Wednesday regarding players, told The Star: “We will be linked with a number of players because players want to play at Hillsborough. This is a terrific club.

“This is a former Championship and Premier League club so players will want to come here.

“It is almost a snowball effect. Once we have signed one or two players, others around the country will want to be part of it.

“We will be looking to steal a march on our competitors as they will over us.

“The manager will sit down with the chairman and the chief executive and he will give them a number of options in terms of targets and he will know where he feels the squad needs to be strengthened.”

Evans says plenty of work has already been done behind the scenes by the management staff as Megson looks to finalise his transfer targets.

But Evans, who spent nearly 20 years at Wolves as the head of the youth system, has admitted the club will have to be prudent with their summer business.

He said: “People have to be sensible. We want to bring in the right quality players to the club but the long term future of Sheffield Wednesday must always prevail.

“There has to be a sensible approach to it and within the parameters of what is affordable. Only the owner (Milan Mandaric) will know the answer to that.

“Gary is very keen to bring the right players who he absolutely adores. He wants quality players but quality costs. He will need to sit down with the owner and outline what he believes will bring success to the club.

“They are two people who are not used to coming second.

Megson is likely to field an unchanged side against relegation-threatened Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium tomorrow. Reda Johnson joined in training yesterday having shaken off a thigh problem but may have to settle for bench duty.


The Teams

WALSALL: Walker; Taundry, Lancashire, Butler, Williams; Cook, Laird, Gbarssin, Richards; Macken, Gray (4-4-2).

WEDNESDAY: O’Donnell; Otsemobor, R Jones, Batth, Buxton; J Johnson, Miller, O’Connor, Teale; Mellor, Madine (4-4-2).

The Referee

Simon Hooper: The Wiltshire ref has officiated in 27 matches this season, dishing out 56 book

ings and five reds. It’s the first time he has reffed Sheffield Wednesday.