COMPETITION for places does not frighten Mark Beevers.
But the young defender acknowledges he has a job on his hands to earn a regular slot in the Sheffield Wednesday starting 11 when he returns to full fitness.
Beevers, who is ruled out for the rest of this season with the worst injury of his career, a depressed fracture of the cheekbone, says he is ready for the challenge and is confident he can force his way into Gary Megson’s long-term plans.
“It is good to have competition and I think it is nice for the gaffer to have choices,” he told The Star. “It will make the players work harder and it is the situation the gaffer wants.
“It is nice for him to have centre-backs pushing for shirts in the team. I think it is good for me that we have a lot of players in that department. It will spur me on and make me go out there and look to play to the best of my ability.”
Megson currently has several options at centre back: Rob Jones and Danny Batth, who have impressed since joining the club on loan from Scunthorpe and Wolves respectively, plus Reda Johnson, Lewis Buxton, Michael Morrison and Richard Hinds.
The equation could well change for next season, depending on whether Jones and Batth stay and whether Buxton and Hinds are given new contracts.
But Beevers will hope to make his own mark no matter how the squad shapes up. Since suffering his injury setback in the game against Peterborough last month, a frustrated Beevers has watched Megson transform the team’s fortunes.
He believes the team are heading in the right direction under Megson.
“It is frustrating for me not to be involved in a team who have turned the corner,” said Beevers, who broke his cheekbone in three places and needed surgery. “We have got a little bit of confidence back into the team and the fans are starting to return.
“We need to keep that winning mentality going and take that into next season. We can’t take our foot off the gas, we need to keep trying to pick results up.”
The 21-year-old says the injury is the worst of his career. “I had a back injury when I was 15 that kept me out for three months. That was painful whilst this is frustrating.” He hopes to be ready for the start of pre-season training.
Starting from next season, players coming back from injury will not be honing their match fitness in Reserve games, with the Owls scrapping the second string, and instead organising private friendlies tailored to their needs.
Megson believes that Reserve leagues may fizzle out within the next three years.