With or without the ball, Barry Bannan leads from the front for Sheffield Wednesday.
He put in yet another midfield masterclass in Saturday’s victory against 10-man Brentford, combining graft and guile.
No player had more touches than Bannan (119) on the pitch last weekend. He is a talismanic figure in the middle of the park and been one of the key factors behind Wednesday’s top-six challenge.
The Scotland international is their great conductor.
Bannan’s outstanding form led to the club handing him a new three-and-a-half-year contract last month.
Coach Lee Bullen told The Star: “Barry is the type of player who you watch on the side of the training pitch and you just admire his quality.
“He’s a brave, brave player. He demands the ball when things are going against the team. He always wants the ball. His awareness of what’s around him is brilliant.
“Barry is the sort of player that players like playing with us.”
When the Owls lose possession, Bannan, Fernando Forestieri and company hunt in packs, harrying the opposition into submission. As Forestieri pointed out post-Brentford, Carlos Carvalhal’s side are trying to copy Barcelona’s fast tempo, high intensity pressing game.
“Barry can quite often be a trigger point for us with his work rate,” said Bullen, who captained Wednesday to play-off glory in 2005. “He almost embarrasses other players into working as hard as him.
“Sometimes you need that player in your side.
“It is the same when Fernando switches it on and starts to work hard. Other players follow his example. Barry’s another one. He’s a leader from that point of view. He’s not a baller or a shouter. He’s a leader with his work rate and quality.”
Bannan and Ross Wallace have been two of the Owls’ shining lights this campaign, adding extra creativity and flair to their midfield.
You have to go back to May 2015 for the last time Bannan made one of Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squads while Wallace won his only international cap seven years ago.
Bannan has recently been in dialogue with Scotland officials and is hoping to be included in Gordon Strachan’s squad for their up-and-coming friendlies with Czech Republic and Denmark.
Strachan watched one of Wednesday’s matches last month.
“Barry and Ross are obviously doing enough to make Gordon aware of what’s happening but I don’t want to be telling him how to do his job,” said Bullen. “Gordon has lifted the country over the last few years and got them going. There’s no reason why Barry and Ross can’t be part of that. They are playing well enough. Let’s just see what happens.”