Sheffield Wednesday may appear to be sitting pretty in second place in League One as the frenzied festive season of matches approaches but all may not be as encouraging as is seems.
Two defeats in three league games has meant that the Owls have failed to capitalise when other haven’t played due to the adverse weather and if their rivals pick up a decent return of points from the resulting games in hand then Wednesday would find themselves out of the play-off places.
The season has been riddled with financial problems coming to the surface as the club have had to fend off a number of winding up petitions from the taxman. Amidst all of these issues Alan Irvine was able to assemble a very strong team in the summer with some established names joining the ranks at Hillsborough. There is little doubt that on paper the Owls have one of the strongest starting 11’s in the division but behind that the club may be a little thin on the ground.
Wednesday currently have 24 players on the first team books but half a dozen of these are youngsters with little more than a handful of first team appearances between them. When injuries strike, as they have done recently the depth of the squad tends to look a little exposed. Of late, both recognised right-backs, Jon Otsemobor and Lewis Buxton, have been out of the side due to injury and have spent prolonged spells on the side-lines at the same time. This has meant that naturally left-footed players, Tommy Spurr and Daniel Jones have had to fill the right-back berth in recent games, to varying degrees of success. Up front an injury to top scorer Neil Mellor meant that with Marcus Tudgay out on loan at Nottingham Forest, the Owls were left with only to experienced recognised front men in Clinton Morrison and Paul Heffernan.
Wednesday do have some options in central midfield but with dynamic goal scoring midfielder Giles Coke having had to undergo surgery the team has certainly lost some its fizz in the centre of the park.
Thankfully the club were able to put their major financial problems behind them earlier this month when Milan Mandaric secured a takeover deal at Hillsborough and the new chairman has suggested that funds may be available to strengthen the team in the January transfer window. Now more than ever those working within professional football are quick to stress that having strength in depth in a squad is paramount and if the Owls are to push on for success in the second half of the season then a few new faces and extra cover, providing more competition for places could be key.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.