WHEN Gary Megson said “come in number 43” he seemed to be making Stephen Bywater his first choice.
It was an unlucky number for Nicky Weaver as he lost his place.
Megson dropped him after the 2-2 draw with Hartlepool despite his earlier good form and brought in Bywater at Scunthorpe.
It was the latter’s first start since his loan spell and return to Hillsborough on a free transfer.
The result was the former Derby man’s ninth win in a Wednesday jersey; there have also been three draws and only one defeat.
That apparent knack of being on the winning side, plus Bywater’s experience, ability and bubbly personality, are reasons why Megson wanted to sign him fully.
The Owls boss is pleased to have two experienced keepers plus the emerg
ing Richard O’Donnell and Arron Jameson.
But he has also admitted: “I brought Stephen in to play. He’s a good goalkeeper. I like him. The only reason he didn’t play was the break in between the end of his loan and his signing for us.
“Nicky got into the team and did really well; I don’t think his last game, against Hartlepoool, was his finest 90 minutes.”
Weaver, however, had been in fine form for four games after his return from a fourth-month lay-off and Bywater’s return to Derby.
Megson then put into practice his usual policy: if he thinks someone has not produced the right standards then he will make a change.
Bywater, who wears number 43, says: “I don’t see myself as number one or number three or number nine. I see myself as a player here and if the gaffer picks me I’ll put my neck on the line to prevent that ball going into the goal.
“It’s natural for everyone to want to play. I don’t expect anything. I’m just prepared for every game. I do things right.”
Of his recall for the 3-1 win at Scunthorpe, he says: “It was a nice surprise, really. I enjoyed it.”
All four keepers get on well and work together under Andy Rhodes, though Jameson has had injury problems.
“It’s healthy competition,” says Bywater. “Nicky is funny, so is Rich. They’re both good goalkeepers.
“Andy Rhodes is a good goalkeeping coach; he’s lively, very sharp. I worked with him at Ipswich and he’s a big reason I came here in the first place.
“Once you get to know the staff here, they’re brilliant: Tommo [Neil Thompson], Evo [Chris Evans] and the gaffer, You want to part of it and want to work for them as well.”
n An additional 800 seats have been freed up for the Steel City derby against Sheffield United next month.
Seats not normally in use in the North Stand and South Stand at Hillsborough will be released for sale. Tickets will go on sale this Monday, January 30 at 9am and can be purchased in person only at the Owls Megastore on a first come, first served basis.