Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Owls can ill-afford to get defensive recruitment wrong

Daniel Pudil
Daniel Pudil
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Given how many clean sheets Wednesday have amassed over the last three years, it may seem a little strange to some that Carlos Carvalhal wants to strengthen his defensive resources.

Fifty clean sheets in 138 Championship matches is a fine record, with Keiren Westwood, Tom Lees and Glenn Loovens having excelled at the back.

But the truth is the Owls have lacked sufficient depth at centre-back for some time. When either Lees or Loovens have been unavailable for long periods, the team have suffered.

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As regular readers of this column will know, I said Wednesday needed extra strength and quality at centre-half after the 2016 Play-Off Final. For a number of reasons, that failed to materialise. Defenders are “expensive”, according to boss Carlos Carvalhal, and the Owls are keen to avoid signing individuals just to boost their numbers. Nevertheless, Wednesday should have addressed the position in the last two transfer windows and it has come back to bite them.

Left-back Daniel Pudil partnering Lees at the heart of their rearguard against Alfeton Town was another stark reminder of the Owls’ centre-half shortage.

Supporters are getting a little twitchy over the Wednesday lack of business. Only George Boyd has arrived so far. Should people be panicking? In a word: no. Things have yet to hot up full stop in the transfer market, which only officially opened on July 1.

“If we want to bring in players, we have plenty of options but we want to bring in the correct players to really improve the team,” said Carvalhal, who is after two centre-backs. “It is probably why we are taking more time.”

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There is nothing wrong in playing the long game. To some extent it can’t be helped as other clubs know the Owls have money to spend and will drive a hard bargain. It is partly why Wednesday have been forced to wait until the back end of windows to buy their top transfer targets.

You would like to think the Owls have learned from the mistakes they made on the recruitment front last year. Far too many players were signed and they didn’t make the first eleven better. Those errors cannot be repeated if Wednesday are to compete for an automatic promotion place.

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