SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Classy Kirkland throws himself into catching up

New boy: Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland
New boy: Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland
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CHRIS Kirkland is striving to make up for lost time as the Owls gear up for the new season.

He made his debut in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Doncaster after missing the club trip to Portugal.

Manager Dave Jones admits that he is behind most of the other players in terms of match practice.

But Jones was pleased with the keeper’s form at the Keepmoat Stadium and says he was not idle when the rest of the squad were away.

“Chris was working hard while we were away. It’s just games and a bit of time he needs now,” said the Wednesday boss.

“He made a good save against Doncaster. He marshalled things well and caught and kicked the ball well, and he’s been training.”

Kirkland played for 90 minutes on Saturday, with Stephen Bywater on the bench and Nicky Weaver not involved.

The best moment for Kirkland was a save when he touched a powerful shot by Rovers midfield player David Syers over the bar.

It was also noticeable that he often threw the ball to a colleague to begin moves from the back rather than kicking it down the middle.

Jones, an advocate of constructive football, said: “As soon as you punt it down the middle it becomes a 50-50 ball, though there were times when we rolled it out when we shouldn’t have done. While we were in Portugal, Stephen (Bywater) was throwing the ball as well. It’s about getting it out there at the right times.”

Jones’s comment about Kirkland needing games suggests that he may well play when the Owls face West Brom at Hillsborough on Saturday (3pm). Kirkland missed the trip abroad because he had to clear up an undisclosed private matter, which has now been resolved.

The one-time England international said: “The manager gave me the time I needed.”

Kirkland also thanked chairman Milan Mandaric and vice-chairman Paul Aldridge for their backing.