SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Owls go for Southend firebrand Moshni

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SHEFFIELD Wednesday’s latest transfer target is a fiery, emotional character.

There is no disputing Bilel Mohsni’s capabilities as a footballer. But the maverick Southend United utility defender has a tendency to lose his cool in the heat of battle.

The Owls have lodged a bid for Mohsni, who is primarily a centre-back but can also be utilised up front.

The 24-year-old is a controversial figure at Roots Hall. As influential as he is on the pitch, Mohsni has been lambasted by Shrimpers boss Paul Sturrock and chairman Ron Martin for his behaviour off the field.

The Frenchman went off midway through the second half of Southend’s clash with Morecambe in February. As he trudged off, Mohsni refused to shake the hand of his replacement Elliot Benyon before travelling home on the train and not on the team coach. Mohsni requested to be taken off in the 1-0 defeat. He later apologised to Benyon.

“I asked to come off because my toe was badly hurt and I did not mean to not shake Elliot’s hand,” said Mohsni.

“I like him, he’s a nice player and I apologise for not shaking his hand as I wasn’t concentrating properly and was thinking about how I had to ice my toe. I was also angry because I felt I had let the team down with my performance.”

In the wake of an FA Cup loss to Oldham Athletic last December, Mohsni also hopped on a train after clashing with his team-mates. Sturrock labelled Mohsni a ‘walking foul’ after seeing him pick up two bookings in the opening 38 minutes. It is thought Mohsni was involved in a heated argument with his team-mates before storming out of Boundary Park.

Ex-Wednesday chief Sturrock was left fuming with Mohsni, with Southend missing out on a lucrative trip to Liverpool. Sturrock contemplated selling Mohsni.

He said: “Too many times he has let everybody down. It has cost us a lot of money. It looked as if he was a walking foul again. It’s something I’ll debate with the powers that be.”

But despite his controversial antics, Sturrock opted to retain Mohsni’s services.

In his two seasons at the club, Mohsni has struck 18 goals in 71 appearances. However, he has been given his marching orders three times and been booked on 19 occasions. But it was the utility player’s quick-fire treble against Barnet which confirmed the Shrimpers place in the League Two play-offs where they lost to eventual winners Crewe Alexandra.

Wednesday, set to sign midfielder David Norris from Portsmouth, are waiting to find out if Southend have accepted their bid for Mohsni. Championship clubs, including Blackpool, who had an offer turned down for the defender last year, are believed to be keeping close tabs on him.