SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Owls trio to sign new deals

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SHEFFIELD Wednesday expect all three of their out-of-contract players to sign new deals.

Stephen Bywater, Jermaine Johnson and Mark Beevers have yet to re-sign but are on course to complete the formalities soon.

The Owls wanted the trio to stay and agreement has been reached in principle.

Dave Jones has been keen to keep Bywater despite the signing from Wigan of former England keeper Chris Kirkland - a move described by the Owls manager as a major scoop.

The Owls have also re-signed young keeper Arron Jameson, who could be allowed to go out on loan.

Jones believes that it made sense to keep a player of Johnson’s ability when to replace him with a player in a similar mould would have been costly.

The Owls boss also feels that Beevers still has plenty to offer, though he is also in the market for two new centre-halves, with loan star Danny Batth having gone back to Wolves.

Bywater, Johnson and Beevers have all publicly expressed a wish to stay and Jones wants a big, strong squad so the club can be competitive in the Championship.

He believes that the announcement of the fixtures underlines the calibre of the division. Wednesday’s first two games are against Derby and Birmingham, and there is an early-season spell in which they face the three clubs who were relegated from the Premier League, Bolton, Wolves and Blackburn, plus Hull and Leeds.

“There are some big clubs and a lot of good games,” Jones said.

“It looks like a second-tier Premier League - a lot of the clubs have played at the top level.

“But I don’t just aim for safety; I’ll be looking for us to finish as high as possible. We’ll be giving it a good go. There’s a lot of satisfaction among the players who helped us to get to the Championship. I’m sure they’ll want to do even better.”