Gary’s big issues

Able deputy: Lewis Buxton was captain for the FA Cup tie
Able deputy: Lewis Buxton was captain for the FA Cup tie
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GARY Megson is facing up to a defence reshuffle and weightier matters as he looks towards Saturday’s game against Tranmere and beyond.

Rob Jones is back in training - which means the manager’s hopes of a quick return for the captain look like being fulfilled after he missed the Morecambe game and Lewis Buxton was given the captaincy.

Thinking time: Gary Megson is pondering Rob Jones's early return on Saturday

Thinking time: Gary Megson is pondering Rob Jones's early return on Saturday

A decision on who will be skipper whenever Jones is out is a simple one for the manager. He turns to Buxton because the right-back has been having a fine season,

With Jones likely to bounce back after minor surgery on his nose, Reda Johnson could well be moved from centre-half to left-back, as he was richly praised by Megson for his form there before having to miss three games owing to international duty followed by suspension.

If Johnson stays in, then that would be at the expense of Julian Bennett and Mark Reynold, who have shared the left-back role over the course of the last two games.

A more intriguing issue concerns the longer term and the futures of loan men Danny Batth, Stephen Bywater and Ben Marshall, who have all proved to be key signings.

It would be a surprise if Megson did not want to keep at least two of them either on loan for the rest of the season or

on full deals. That would depend on whether or not their clubs want to part with them, and, in the case of full transfers, whether or not the Owls could afford them .

Batth and Marshall are at Hillsborough until January under the current loan deals, Bywater until December 17.

The Bywater issue could depend on how fit Nicky Weaver is in a month’s time.

But if the Owls are deter-

mined to push for promotion with the strongest possible squad, Megson may want to keep two experienced keepers rather than just have one, especially as Bywater has looked the part.

The stepping-up of Weaver’s fitness work is good news for the club, and the squad will be swelled on Saturday by the return of Liam Palmer.

The midfielder played as a substitute for around the last 20 minutes of Scotland Un-

der-21s’ 2-1 win against Holland in Nijmegen on Monday, which ended the Dutch’s 100 per cent record in European Championship qualifying games.

Palmer’s latest international call ruled him out of the Owls’ cup tie at Morecambe.

Wednesday have confirmed that the second-round tie against Maidenhead or Aldershot will be played on Saturday, December 3, 3pm.

The Aldershot v Maidenhead replay takes place next Tuesday.

The second-round ties chosen for live TV coverage are December 2, 7.30pm, Fleetwood v Yeovil, ESPN; Dec 4, 12.30, Totton v Bristol R, ITV1; Dec 4, 5.0, Sutton Utd v Notts Co, ESPN.