GARY Megson is keen to restore Gary Madine to the Wednesday side - and not just for his goalscoring ability.
The striker’s hold-up play and his defensive heading are assets to the team, says the Owls manager.
Madine is expected to play a key part in the club’s promotion campaign when he comes back from a broken toe.
He already has 11 goals and is third in the League One scoring chart despite having played in only one of the Owls’ last eight games, because of suspension and the injury.
His absence has also resulted in a bigger role for Ryan Lowe, who has taken his goal tally for the Owls to four in the league and one in the cup.
“Ryan gets goals but Gary gives you a little bit more than goals,” said Megson. “In terms of defending at set pieces, I don’t there’s a better centre forward in the division. He heads everything away. He’s terrific.
“He’s obviously different in size and stature from anybody else we’ve got. He gets hold of the ball. When he’s got his good head on he’s a real handful.”
Only Huddersfield’s Jordan Rhodes, with 18 goals, and Charlton’s Bradley Wright-Phillips, with 14, have scored more goals than Madine in League One this season.
Megson is aware than a long absence from the game can affect a player’s form: “Hopefully Gary will have missed it and will be full of enthusiasm and running to get himself right back into it.”
The manager says he still does not know when Madine and Lewis Buxton will be back, but they are getting closer to fitness, and the defender is closer than the striker after missing the last six games with a hamstring injury:.
“Lewis is not far off, but we need to be as certain as we can be that when he comes back, he stays back. I believe he is the best right back in the division.”
Ex-Barnsley striker Iain Hume says that victory for his Preston team against the Owls today would only strengthen his belief that caretaker bosses Graham Alexander and David Unsworth should remain in charge.
Hume cites ex-Owls assistant manager Rob Kelly and former Barnsley boss Simon Davey as examples of how internal appointments can work: they had good spells at Leicester and Oakwell respectively.
Unsworth said: “Sheffield Wednesday are a club we respect massively. They will bring a few thousand fans with them which will create a great atmosphere.”
* Gary Madine’s last goal for the Owls was his 85th minute headed equaliser in the Sheffield derby draw at Bramall Lane, which came three minutes after Chris O’Grady made it 2-1.