Sheffield Wednesday: New roles suit Owls front men

Main threat: Michail Antonio is causing opposing defenders problems but is still learning as a striker
Main threat: Michail Antonio is causing opposing defenders problems but is still learning as a striker

DAVE Jones has pointed to the energy-saving way that strikers Michail Antonio and Jermaine Johnson are burning holes in opposing defences.

The Wednesday boss feels that the pace aces are benefiting from playing up front because they have less work than when they were on the wing.

The pair can get small breaks during games because they can stay in more advanced positions instead of having to track back with opposing full backs.

That allows them to conserve energy but unleash it when they make forward runs.

“It’s an easier position (up front),” says Jones, “They haven’t got to chase a winger or full back, they can get more rest but then be dynamic when they get the ball.”

The Owls boss this week has been faced with an option of breaking up the partnership if Jeremy Helan did not come back from Manchester City.

Either Johnson or Antonio would appear to be the obvious alternative in Helan’s position on the left wing.

But Jones said: “We’ve worked on different options for if Jeremy’s not here, We might surprise one or two people and do something that will not be expected.”

Danny Mayor or Nejc Pecnik could be contenders if Helan was not in the side, and Chris O’Grady has occasionally played wide in midfield.

Jones also has to consider “one or two” undisclosed issues concerning players who are strugglong to get over injuries.

If everyone is fit, then Helan’s position will have been the main focus of his attention in the build-up to the Charlton game, for he probably would want to keep much the same line that started against Wolves.

The shelving of the attempt to extend Mamady Sidibe’s loan ruled out a recall for him, should there be a striker vacancy.

Jones has not ruled out a return for Sidibe from Stoke later in the month, but for now the striker has travel and family issues, with his wife due to give birth in the Potteries, and the couple having two other children.

Jones said: “He wants to keep getting fitter; he wants to come back; if he’d been in our team we’d still have this (family) problem. He won’t be coming back at the moment, but we’ll see how things go.”

Seeking an improvement in the team’s finishing, the Wednesday boss is hoping to coax more productivity from Antonio, who is often the major threat, and believes all his strikers can learn from Robbie Fowler, who has been doing some training with the club.

“Michail is still young and learning his trade,” said Jones. “The best way to learn is by picking it up from other people.

“When you see somebody like Robbie in front of goal, if you have anything about you, you pick up his habits.

“We talk to Michail, and get him into better positions, He scored a fantastic goal at Hull, but against Wolves he was snatching at it a bit.

“As a team we have to find a bit more composure in front of goal, be more clinical; that eases the pressure elsewhere.

“When we get our noses in front, we’re difficult to break down.”