Sheffield Wednesday: Long wait could be over for Dejan Kelhar

Dejan Kelhar is edging closer to making his Owls debut
Dejan Kelhar is edging closer to making his Owls debut
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Few players have to wait as long to make their debut for a club as Dejan Kelhar.

In fact, there was a chance that the Slovenian defender may never actually appear in a Wednesday shirt for a competitive game.

But there is a distinct possibility Kelhar could indeed make his Owls debut before the end of the season.

The 30-year-old arrived at Hillsborough last summer on trial and impressed sufficiently to earn a short term contract.

But after being named on the bench for the opening game at Brighton, disaster struck when he ruptured knee ligaments.

The initial diagnosis was that Kelhar would miss the entire season.

However his recovery has been smoother than expected, seeing him earn a conract until the end of the current campaign.

And after playing 90 minutes for the Owls’ development squad against Charlton on Monday, plus the continued absence of fellow centre halves Glenn Loovens and Kamil Zayatte, that Kelhar could be handed his debut.

Coach Lee Bullen says game time would be nothing more than Kelhar deserves after his hard work during his battle for fitness.

“I would love it for him if he gets on,” Bullen said. “His contract is up at the end of the season so I don’t know what his future holds but it would give him a big lift.

“He wants to show the fans what he can do.

“He’s a credit to himself and the way he’s gone about his business. He has really pushed himself to get back.

“It was a really nasty, horrible injury that he got after getting a good pre-season under his belt.

“It is really difficult to stay mentally strong when you pick up a bad injury like that but Dejan is a strong character.”

Bullen – who oversees the development squad – says it has been valuable to have Kelhar and other senior players around the younger players to aid their development.

He said: “We’ve been lucky with the development boys because more often than not the senior boys can let you down.

“When they get told they are playing at U21 level, some ask ‘why am I playing at this level’. But Paul Corry, Dejan, Rhys McCabe and Lewis Buxton have played quite regularly.

“It has been a pleasure me to work with them. They have shown a great attitude. They have shown the younger lads the attitude and application you need to get to that level.

“I have had one or two lads in the past who have really let themselves down and have been a really bad role model for the younger players. They have been a credit to themselves.

“Dejan’s a great leader for the youngsters who look up to him. He’s not a loud talker but he leads by example with his experience. He is helping the youngsters develop.”