Buxton and Palmer make a case for Owls’ defence

Leicester City v Sheffield Wednesday'SkyBet Championship'Michail Antonio Celebrates with the bench after scoring
Leicester City v Sheffield Wednesday'SkyBet Championship'Michail Antonio Celebrates with the bench after scoring
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Lewis Buxton and Liam Palmer could provide emergency services for the Owls at Forest tomorrow, after earning praise from Stuart Gray for their versatility.

Buxton coped well with his switch to centre half during the Leicester game, as did Palmer after he went to right back.

Neither is a stranger to his respective position but it was a big challenge against a Foxes side who have a formidable armoury up front and on the wings.

Centre halves Glenn Loovens and Oguchi Onyewu are set to be ruled out of tomorrow’s game - and Wednesday will hope that scans do not show a far worse scenario, with only a month of the season left.

There has been no suggestion of imminent comebacks for the other sufferers in the club’s season-long catalogue of centre-half injuries: Kamil Zayatte, Anthony Gardner and Martin Taylor, or Reda Johnson and Jose Semedo, who could both do a job in the position.

But Adedeji Oshilaja joins Buxton as a contender to play at the City Ground alongside Miguel Llera, who seems an obvious starter and at half time on Friday replaced Onyewu, who has a back muscle injury.

When Loovens went off with a hamstring problem in the 57th minute, Buxton was switched to centre back, Palmer to right back, and sub Giles Coke went into midfield.

Palmer looked at home in the spot where he had a run in the side earlier this season while Buxton was injured.

Gray said: “Lewis dropped in there and did well. Liam had an excellent game in midfield and then at right back.”

The centre halves’ setbacks kept up the pattern of the club getting players back from injuries, only to lose others through fresh blows.

Michail Antonio was the one to come back at Leicester, for only his third start in four and a half months.

His delight at recovering from his latest injury ahead of schedule was reflected in his celebration after his fine goal.

He ran towards the touchline, where fitness coach Andy Kalinins was waiting with open arms.

Physio Paul Smith was another recipient of gratitude from the winger, who will have benefited from his rehabilitation with the medical staff and worked at his general fitness under Kalinins.

It is normal for comeback players to be restricted to around an hour in their first game but the defenders’ withdrawal contributed to Antonio staying on.

He said: “It’s been a very frustrating season for me. I did my knee, came back for a game and did my knee again, then came back for four games and managed to do my ankle, which was very frustrating because they told me I was out for the season.

“So I was already mentally finished. But I thought ‘no, it’s not the end for me.’ I worked hard with Smudge [Smith] and Andy.

“The gaffer told me to just go out there give all I could and I think I did that.”

“It was just bad luck two of our players got injured,” Antonio added.

“I had to stay on for the 90 but I do whatever I can for the team and they needed me to stay on.”

In preparation for the Forest game, Gray is pointing out to his players the value of hard work after they almost earned a point against Leicester:“I can remind them of the standards, the effort and commitment they showed,” Gray said.

“That’s what Nigel’s got with his players. Leicester put an unbelievable shift in at Wigan. Then we pushed them, and they had to put an unbelievable shift again.”