Chris Waddle is optimistic Sheffield Wednesday will be involved in the Championship promotion shake-up again, despite their poor start to the season.
Carlos Carvalhal’s charges, beaten in the Play-Off final last May, lie in 19th position after collecting a meagre five points from their opening five league fixtures.
But Owls legend Waddle insists it is far too early to judge the Hillsborough outfit. He firmly believes the time to assess them will be after their 15th Championship outing away to Derby County on October 29.
Former England star Waddle told The Star: “I don’t judge a season until about 15 games in.
“You are always going to get teams up there who surprise you and you are always going to get teams in the bottom half who should be doing better but I think you have to look at the table after 15 games.
“Wednesday will do alright this year. I’m not really worried about them.
“They are playing nice football and it is about putting the ball in the net. Once they start doing that, they will climb the league very quickly.
“I will be very surprised if Wednesday aren’t up there.
“I’m not saying they will go up automatically. They could but I will be slightly surprised if they are not in the top six.”
Waddle reckons the Owls’ club-record signing Adam Reach will give Carvalhal’s side an extra dimension in the final third.
“Wednesday do play down the middle a lot and teams work them out so Reach will give them a little bit of extra width and put quality into the box,” he said. “If you ask people like Gary Hooper or Steven Fletcher, they will be saying they need service from the flanks at times.
“They don’t get it really because everything comes down the middle so hopefully Reach will change that.”
The pressure will be on Reach to deliver, with Wednesday having splashed out £5m to buy him from Middlesbrough but Waddle hopes the fans will give him time to settle in.
He said: “Adam’s a young lad and people will want success straight away.
“I’m surprised Middlesbrough let him go because a lot of people were talking him up. Middlesbrough are a Premier League club so you don’t let your best talent go.
“It is a strange sort of move but let’s hope he settles in quickly and hits the ground running. If he does, that will obviously help Wednesday get into the Premier League.
“People have to be patient with him especially when you move but going to Preston on loan last year will have helped him a lot.”
Wednesday greats Waddle and John Sheridan lent their support to a special fundraising football match over the weekend. The Master Cutler’s Challenge ‘FA(ke) Cup’ took place on Sunday afternoon at Hillsborough and saw Owls fans make up two teams to help raise money for St. Luke’s Hospice, Rotherham Hospice and the club’s Community Programme.
Waddle, who managed one of the teams, said: “It was a great day and fair play to all the lads who paid good money to play on the pitch.
“It was all for a good cause.”