Sheffield Wednesday climbed to the top of the npower League One table on Saturday as a 5-0 win at Hartlepool extended their unbeaten start to the league campaign.
With nine new players signed in the summer, Alan Irvine was forced to reshape his side following relegation, and it was inevitable that the team would take a fair amount of time to gel.
And, prior to the weekend’s result, the solid start had mainly been formed around a sound defensive base with only one goal conceded in the league to date.
Having established a strong shape to build upon the team are now seemingly starting to express themselves going forward and Giles Coke is proving to be a key member of the side.
When Coke signed in July on a free transfer many Owls fans will have known very little about the former Motherwell man and his style of play, but the Hillsborough faithful are quickly turning into Coke addicts.
The 24-year-old started out as a youth team player at QPR but moved on to non-league Kingstonian without playing a first team game for the Hoops.
The midfielder did enough in one season to earn a move to the football league with Mansfield where he netted five goals in two seasons before signing for Northampton for a tribunal fee which totalled around £70,000.
Coke made over 50 appearances for the Cobblers but when the club were relegated from League One in 2009 the Londoner chose to move as his contract expired.
Coke spent last season in the Premier League north of the border, playing over 30 games and scoring just twice, with the goals coming in the same game, as ‘Well finished in a respectable fifth place.
Coke moved to the Steel City on a three-year contract this summer and those that saw him in pre-season, probably for the first time, will have been impressed with what was on show.
Irvine had commented on his experience, athleticism and ability with both feet on his arrival and so far he has more than matched the praise of his manager.
A strong debut saw him play a key role in the opening day win over Dagenham and Redbridge and has since netted goals against Bury, Brighton and Hartlepool.
His energetic displays from the middle of the park have provided the fulcrum on which many of Wednesday’s attacking moves have been built.
Few would have predicted that of the nine new players Coke would have the biggest impact in the opening stages of the season.
But, despite competition for places in central midfield with the likes of Darren Potter, James O’Connor, Tommy Miller and youngster Liam Palmer vying for starting roles he is quickly establishing himself as an integral part of the starting line up.
*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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