ALL eyes will be on Martin Taylor when Sheffield Wednesday next return to Championship action.
Northumberland-born Taylor is expected to be reinstated to the Owls starting line-up for the visit of fifth-placed Leicester City as Dave Jones charges seek to avoid a fourth successive loss in the second tier of English football.
With Miguel Llera set to serve a one-match ban after picking up his fifth caution of the season in the defeat at Nottingham Forest last weekend, Taylor, Wednesday’s club captain, is likely to be paired with Anthony Gardner at the heart of their leaky rearguard.
Since his August transfer deadline day move from Watford, the 33-year-old has struggled to adapt to his new surroundings and has not played since October 24. He has recently acknowledged his displays at Hillsborough have been below-par since his undisclosed switch.
“Since I’ve come here, things haven’t worked out as I had hoped,” he admitted.
With Llera suspended, Reda Johnson injured and Mark Beevers impressing on loan at Millwall, Taylor now has the chance to put things right. He is itching to win over a minority of Wednesday’s fans who have criticised his performances this term.
Taylor said: “You want to show the fans and the squad what you can do. I have enough confidence in my ability to know that I can do a good job if called upon again.”
After the six-goal thriller at Burnley, Jones dropped Taylor in favour of Llera for the home double-header with Hull City and Leeds United in an attempt to tighten up a back four who have recorded just one clean sheet since promotion. Taylor’s last appearance came at Blackburn Rovers. He has been an unused substitute in the last five matches.
Taylor has accepted responsibility for some of the goals Wednesday have shipped in, saying: “You never intend to make mistakes and I don’t think I’ve been through another stage in my career where I’ve made so many.”
The Owls sit just two points above the relegation zone and, unless they stop the rot quickly, are in danger of becoming embroiled in a fight for survival. Jones has called for more composure in front of goal and is looking to bolster the forward department before the emergency loan window shuts on Thursday.
However, defensive lapses in concentration have heavily contributed to the club’s lowly league position. The time has come for the Owls and Taylor to stand up and deliver.