Sheffield Wednesday: Owls newcomer and numbers game

Benik Afobe
Benik Afobe
Have your say

When the name of new signing Benik Afobe went on the Sheffield Wednesday teamsheet at the weekend, the squad number alongside it was No.28. It would have been more appropriate had it been No.40.

For the young striker is the FORTIETH player to appear in a matchday squad this season.

OK, several of them - mainly youngsters from the club’s Academy - have been on the bench but never appeared. But the number of players that have been called on highlights the disruption there has been for Wednesday this season one way and another.

Not surprisingly, there is no ever-present although there are four outfield players who have been in the matchday 18 in every game.

The player closest to having appeared in every game is Jeremy Helan. There are only two games in which he has not either started or made an appearance off the subs’ bench.

The other outfield players to have been there every game, either starting or as a sub, are Liam Palmer, Atdhe Nuhiu and Miguel Llera.

To that list can be added goalkeeper Chris Kirkland who has played or been the standby ‘keeper every time.

Afobe played on Saturday against Barnsley in what was his first senior appearance of the season. The 20-year-old from Arsenal (he is 21 next week) only returned to action in October after eight months out following surgery on a knee injury.

“I thought he looked bright,” said head coach Stuart Gray.

“I know what he will bring to us and the attributes he has and which will benefit us.

“He’s someone who wants to get in behind the back four; if we can find a bit of quality to find him, he’s got goals in him.”

Gray felt it was a good debut from Afobe who has signed to the end of the season.

“He’s been playing under 21 football and there’s a big difference between that and Championship football,” said Gray who said he was taken off after 70 minutes so they could put on fresh legs.

The Afobe signing adds another central striker and also plugged the gap left by Connor Wickham’s return to Sunderland.