Alan Biggs at Large: Owls players futures hanging in the balance

by Pete McKee
by Pete McKee
4
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Some 16 players out of contract and new money in the club; the danger is writ large for anyone with a Sheffield Wednesday deal expiring this summer.

A shake-up is a certainty. But that is not in itself the biggest change. It’s the norm these days for clubs to operate in a state of flux.

Kieran Lee

Kieran Lee

Money or no money, the degree of change at most clubs is enough to make you dizzy.

At S6 the word to avoid is giddy – and happily Dejphon Chansiri does not look that kind of owner to me. Neither is Stuart Gray that sort of manager, assuming he has his hands on the purse strings.

But the prevailing wind of change is unmistakeable. Around 60% of the senior squad is out of contract. With higher quality sought, you couldn’t confidently bet on more than 20% surviving the cut.

Few are certainties, if any. I can’t find a banker bet. For instance, Chris Maguire can appear to carry a single-handed threat - at times.

Kamil Zayette

Kamil Zayette

Yes, a genuine talent and perhaps unlucky not to have had a run in his favoured front role but he has been erratic and his six goals could have been more. One-year extension perhaps?

Midweek matchwinner Kieran Lee, of a similar age and approaching his peak, is a safer bet and has the ability to thrive on a new contract. And, from what I’ve seen this season, I’d keep Jose Semedo. Besides being an impressive anchor when fit, he’s the heart and soul of the place. Important to keep that.

Glenn Loovens, too, brings leadership. Will an unfortunately timed injury count against him at 31? Worth another year for me. A similar fear at the same age for Lewis Buxton, the club’s longest-serving player. But currently a timely comeback for a great pro whose ability is not in doubt.

Same for Kamil Zayatte, 30, who has had the odds stacked against him after only sporadic appearances but is again showing his calibre.

On the other side of the coin, Gary Madine, Giles Coke and Paul Corry being out on loan probably tells its own story.

Indeed, any player on the fringe can be out of sight and out of mind when it comes to improving the squad.

Take Rhys McCabe, Dejan Kelhar and Rafael Floro.

Which brings us finally to two players who’ve been involved enough to come into the close-run decision bracket – left back Joe Mattock, packing a lot of experience at 24, and winger Jacques Maghoma, who must know it’s time to deliver at 27.

Maghoma is the most intriguing, brilliant in patches but inconsistent.

With greater flank threat a priority, the former Burton midfielder is unlikely to remain as a first choice. Perhaps as back-up?

There is a little time, of course, for some of the above to sway things either way. Much will depend on the budget set. What seems clear is that the club can afford a more ruthless approach to these awkward calls and I think that could spell curtains in the majority of cases.