It became apparent very quickly while watching Jacques Maghoma in action at the Owls’ Middlewood Road training ground yesterday that he means business over pre-season.
Things didn’t quite go according to plan for the former Burton Albion forward during the 2013/14 campaign.
After he penned a two-year deal with Sheffield Wednesday last summer, his progress was initially derailed by an ankle injury suffered in the Owls’ friendly at Stockport County last July.
And just as Maghoma began to hit top form, he damaged his knee in the defeat away to Wigan Athletic earlier this year.
Now that Maghoma’s injury problems are behind him, Owls head coach Stuart Gray is tipping the versatile player to shine when the new Championship campaign kicks off on August 9.
“We haven’t seen the best of Jacques yet,” Gray told The Star. “We wanted a fit Jacques throughout the whole season but it was stop start for him because of the Stockport injury.
“For some strange reason, Wigan’s goalkeeper didn’t get sent off after colliding with Jacques in the penalty area and we missed the resulting spot-kick and lost him for two months with a knee injury.
“But I’ve got every confidence that we will see the best of him next season. Jacques wants to succeed and get better. He got 18 goals at Burton so he knows where the goal is.
“We saw in glimpses with Jacques that he can come off the left flank, drift infield and that he can strike the ball with both feet. He can manipulate the ball and create chances for his teammates. It’s keeping him higher up the pitch so he can do the damage for us.”
Quick and skilful on the ball, Maghoma, who came through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspurs, is an individual who is prepared to graft his way to the top.
Gray said: “Jacques is a good listener and a grafter. He wants to do well. It’s not a case of he’s got his move to a big club and he’s happy here. He wants to better himself.
“Jacques is one of those players who stays out and does extra training. All we need to do is keep him fit for 46 plus games.”
In his final year at Burton, Maghoma was named in the PFA’s League Two team of the Year and he also scooped the club’s players’ Player of the Year award.
However, Gray believes there is one department of Maghoma’s performance which must be improved if he is to make a big impact in the second tier of English football.
“He can do some damage with the ball but Jacques has got to realise he must do the defensive side too,” he added.