Sheffield Wednesday: Rivalry spurs Antonio

Michail Antonio starred in the 5-2 win against Reading
Michail Antonio starred in the 5-2 win against Reading
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Dave Jones thought about resting Michail Antonio to see whether that would spark a return to form for him.

The Wednesday manager decided against it and was rewarded when the winger produced his best performance of the season against Reading.

Jones gives a three-word answer to a question about why Antonio turned it on at last: “Competition for places.”

Connor Wickham’s arrival spelled one fewer place in the forward line and followed on the heels of Matty Fryatt’s arrival.

Competition for the striker and winger roles is hotter than it has been all season.

Antonio, who has played in both positions, has gone back to his preferred spot on the right flank.

Jones admits: “I considered resting him seeing how he adapted to that.

“Everybody now knows if they don’t keep up the levels then there are other players who’re ready to step into those places.

“It puts players under immense pressure, because they know if they don’t deliver then the next person will.”

Antonio has also admitted that he was spurred by the fact that he was playing against his former club.

With Jeremy Helan also in the side, Jones is pleased with the back-up provided in the forward positions by men such as Atdhe Nuhiu, Jermaine Johnson and Jacques Maghoma, and with the competition in other departments.

“Sometimes you’re only as a good as your bench,” he added.

“We’re not weakening the team when we put people on, now. It’s nice that everybody is on song. They have to continue that.”

It seems sure to be an unchanged team at Derby tomorrow, barring any unexpected snags.

Jones has also pondered what might happen when the loans of Wickham and Fryatt end: “Contingency plans are always in place. The loan system can work for you; it can also work against you if a player does well and his club want him back.

“We have Connor Wickham and Roger Johnson until January and we hope we can keep them.”

Jones also hopes Fryatt does not make an early departure, and he hinted that the club are eyeing longer deals for Seyi Olofinjana and Stephen McPhail, who are on short-term contracts:

“Macca has done really well; Seyi grew stronger as last Saturday’s game went on, se we know he’s getting fitter.”

Jones said “we’re looking at everything” and more or less confirmed that he will not be signing Robbie Simpson, who played for the Under 21s on Tuesday.

He continues his policy of always being on the lookout for players who can improve the team.

“There are a couple of people we’re monitoring and would like to bring in. We can’t do that.

“If someone goes out we might try it; it depends, It’s just an ongoing thing.”

Although pleased with the positives of the Reading victory, he says: “It’s one game, Can we do it again?

“Derby have good players and a new manager; they’ll still be wanting to show him what they can do.

“We always have tough games against them. We expect nothing else but a really hard game.”