LEWIS Buxton has revealed he feared his days were numbered at Sheffield Wednesday following manager Dave Jones’ summer spending spree.
Jones, who has yet to taste defeat in 14 matches in charge, bolstered the full-back department during the close season by bringing in Joe Mattock and Kieran Lee.
The majority of Wednesday followers expected Mattock and Lee to be selected in the right and left-back positions for the the Championship curtain-raiser at Derby County.
But, with Buxton and Reda Johnson having impressed in pre-season, Jones has resisted the temptation to start two his his new acquisitions. In fact, Lee has not even been named on the substitutes’ bench in the first-round Capital One Cup victory over Oldham Athletic or draw at Derby.
Buxton, who has one-year left on his contract at Hillsborough, told The Star: “You are always concerned about your future. It is your career so you are always going to be looking at who comes in and who the club’s targets are. It is in your best interests to be aware of what’s going on at the club.”
“I am pleased to be starting,” he added. “You are always unsure when you come into a new season of where exactly you stand unless you are Lionel Messi!
“It is nice to have started the first few games but equally you have to put in the performances otherwise you could be out of the side.”
The 28-year-old welcomes the battle for places with the Championship newcombers, who fought back from two goals down to snatch a point at Pride Park in the last minute.
“A lot of new players have come in and there is a lot of competition throughout the team and so there
should be,” he said. “That is the way you get the best out of the lads and the best out of the team.
“Everyone knows if they have a dip in form that they are going to be out of the side. That’s what you want and need to be a successful team.
“It definitely spurs you on when you have got competition. There have been times in the past where we have not had that and even if players were not playing particularly well they would stay in the side but now there are players who are champing at the bit and wanting to get into the starting 11.
“I have got to constantly improve to stay with this football club and hopefully I will and the team will and we will move onwards and upwards.”
Wednesday have stated their intentions by recruiting striker Rodri on a season-long loan deal from Barcelona B - the Catalan giants’ reserve side - yesterday. The Spanish ace is in contention to start against Birmingham
tonight as the Owls seek their maiden three-point haul of the campaign.
Buxton said: “It is fantastic we have signed Rodri and I hope he does really well for us this season.
“We have got big ambitions. The manager and the chairman want us to do well. It is a big club on the up and there is no reason why players wouldn’t want to come here anymore.”
Jones is sweating on the fitness of Anthony Gardner ahead of their meeting with Lee Clark’s much-fancied side. The one-time England centre-half hurt his hamstring in the win at
Oldham and suffered a recurrence of the problem at Derby. Mark Beevers is in on stand-by should Gardner miss out.
Wednesday have shipped in four goals so far and Buxton says the team have to start keeping shut-outs to pick up results in the second tier of English football.
Buxton said: “We have come into a new league and we have come into the unknown a but we have let in a few goals and it is something we need to address.
“We have got to defend as a unit. It is not just as a back four. It is right across the team. We are determined to keep clean sheets. We are not always going to be able to get out of situations like we have done in the last two games. We have got to put a stop to that and I think we will have a successful season if we do that. Everyone is still finding their feet. I’m sure it will slot into place; we have got a few new players in but we will sort it out.”
Jones is chasing four more reinforcements before the August transfer window shuts. When asked about whether he was interested in taking Everton youngster Ross Barkley on loan, he said: “If a name crops up and he’s a good player then of course we’d be interested. But I think it’s disrespectful to talk about people that aren’t signed at this football club.”
Nicky Weaver is in talks with Doncaster Rovers, Jones has confirmed.
Teams and ref
Owls: Kirkland; Buxton, Llera, Gardner or Beevers, R Johnson; J Johnson, Semedo, McCabe, Antonio; Pecnik or Rodri, O’Grady (4-4-2)
Birmingham: Butland; Spector, Caldwell, Davies, Murphy; Burke, Morrison, Mullins, Ambrose; Lovenkrands, King (4-4-2).
Mark Heywood: The Cheshire official issued three yellow cards in Doncaster Rovers 3-0 win over Walsall last weekend. Heywood handed out just one red card in 27 matches during the 2011/12 campaign.