What a difference a year makes for Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Giles Coke.
Twelve months ago, the 27-year-old’s time at Hillsborough was seemingly coming to an end.
Wednesday were preparing to embark on their first season back in the Championship following promotion from League One and, after two appearances for the Owls in the Capital One Cup, Coke was farmed out on loan to Swindon Town.
After returning to Hillsborough with a foot injury, Coke regained full fitness and was handed a surprise start in Wednesday’s televised clash against Hull City in January.
He did enough to keep his place, made 15 further league appearances as Wednesday sealed their Championship status for another season and then agreed a two-year deal with the club.
“I always wanted to stay,” Coke, speaking ahead of this weekend’s Championship curtain raiser against relegated Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, said.
“I had some interesting offers from other clubs, but there are a lot of reasons for me to stay at Wednesday.
“Our fan base is good, we have a really great gaffer [Dave Jones] and I never wanted to leave so I was happy to sign a new deal.
“Last season was a crazy season, to be honest. At the start, no-one - not even me - would have thought that I would be offered anything.
“I was out of the picture completely, but I came back and I have to thank the gaffer a lot for giving me a chance.
“Luckily, I came in and did really well. You know as a footballer when you are not in a manager’s plans, and you are getting pushed away.
“But I am quite a confident person and I always believed in my ability.
“If I wasn’t going to play here, then I am sure I would have gone somewhere else and done well. But I wasn’t happy, because I wanted to stay at the club and luckily that’s happened, so I am really happy to be here.”
Coke’s situation is uncannily simiar to that of team-mate David Prutton, who also looked like following him out of the Hillsborough exit.
Prutton began last season on loan at Scunthorpe United, before returning to Wednesday and forcing his way back in to Jones’ plans.
Prutton signed a one-year extension to his current deal, and Coke added: “Dave and I were in a similar situation, but now he’s signed up and he’s really happy. You are not going to leave this club and go anywhere bigger, unless you go to a top ten Premier League club.
“Prutts was brilliant for us last season. He had played in this league before, so his experience was vital.
“He’s a fun, bubbly person too, so he’s really good to have around the place and it is great news that he has agreed to stay on for another year.”
Coke has also backed his manager’s cautious dealings in the summer transfer market.
Jones has so far only brought in Jeremy Helan, Jacques Maghoma and Atdhe Nuhiu, and Coke said: “To be honest, I don’t really believe in the policy of bringing loads and loads of players in to a club.
“For a team to gel, you need to give them time to play together, and I don’t think that bringing in seven or eight players is the way forward.
“The gaffer has kept the team that he wanted, I’m sure he will add another three or four players, and hopefully they will add to what we have got already.”
Leroy Lita remains one option on Jones’ radar. It is understood that the Swansea striker has yet to agree a move elsewhere, and Jones is negotiating with both the player and the club to try and broker a deal.
Wednesday’s game at Loftus Road is all ticket, and no tickets will be available on the day.