DAVE Jones could be set to change his starting side for the first time.
The Owls have been doing nicely with three wins and a draw from the matches in which he has been in full charge.
But a doubt over Danny Batth plus yesterday’s signings mean that the status quo may be disturbed.
Batth has played in every league game this season and been a consistent performer but a hamstring problem has meant a cause for concern in the run-up to tomorrow’s game at Leyton Orient.
If he misses out then it could mean a recall for Miguel Llera, who has been a regular on the bench and played well whenever he has come in for Rob Jones.
Reda Johnson is still troubled by the ankle injury that kept him out of the Notts County and Walsall matches, which suggests that Julian Bennett may extend his run in the side at left-back.
Bennett has also staked a claim to stay in the team on merit.
Michail Antonio may overcome a knock to his back which he suffered in the 2-2 draw with Walsall, and Gary Madine was sore after that game. Jones said: “Reda Johnson and Danny Batth are the ones we’re more concerned about.”
Keith Treacy, the new loan signing from Burnley, is left-footed so could take over from Mike Jones if on-form Antonio is fit and stays on the right. Otherwise, it would probably be Treacy on the bench.
The ex-United loan winger said: “As soon as I found out that Dave Jones wanted me, there was no hesitation. This is a big club in a promo
tion battle and that is one of the main reasons why I came here.
“I already have experience of playing in a Sheffield derby and I’m looking forward to playing again in a great football city.”
New striker Nile Ranger provides strong competition for current frontmen Gary Madine and Ryan Lowe.
Jones admits that an unchanged side is by no means certain: “A settled side is always good; the players are chomping at the bit, which is good as well.
“I might change it. I might leave it. We’ll just assess it and see what it’s like.”
The Owls chief is also looking for an improvement on the performance against Walsall but retains his admiration for the players because of their workrate and willingness to learn the way he wants them to play.
Jones feels that correct decision-making when players are in possession is vital, and that, at this early stage of his reign, sometimes inviduals who are trying to adapt to the more fluent style are caught in two minds during the heat of the contest about which is the right pass to play.
The manager preaches the virtue of patience, explaining: “If you look at the teams who want to get the ball down and play,
patience is the biggest word ever. Fans have to learn that as well.
“Take Swansea, for instance. Sometimes they’ll make 20 passes to get to where they want to go, whereas other teams might only make one.
“It’s an education for everybody, the players and the fans. If it’s successful then they’ll accept you keeping the ball.
“The other night we kept the ball and you could hear ‘get it in the box’..
“We had 10-12 passes and in the end we got a shot away that maybe we should have scored from. If that had been a goal, everybody would have said what a great move it was.
“You’re educating everybody, the players more than anything. It may be a bit strange to take two or three passes, though you might take one sometimes and give the ball away too cheaply. If you have the ball, the opposition can’t score.”
Jones expects Leyton Orient to put up a stiff fight as they attempt to climb the table.
Teams and ref
O’s (possible): Rachubka, Forbes, Chorley, Cuthbert, McSweeney, Smith, Reed, Spring, Cox, Campbell-Ryce, Lisbie (4-4-2)
OWLS (possible): Bywater, Buxton, Batth or Llera, R Jones, Bennett, Antonio, Semedo, Lines, M Jones or Treacy, Lowe, Madine. (4-4-2).
Darren Drysdale (Lincs): Took the Owls’ 3-0 home win against Exeter. His last match was Palace 0 Hull 0 this month; he has shown 76 yellow cards and three reds in 35 games.
One to watch
Much-travelled, 33-year-old striker Kevin Lisbie is Leyton Orient’s top scorer with nine goals, and netted in their 2-0 home win against Brentford last Saturday and the 4-1 defeat at MK Dons on Tuesday.
Wednesday have not won in five visits to Brisbane Road since a 1-0 victory there in March, 1974. The overall record for meetings between the clubs is 18 wins for the Owls, nine for the O’s and 10 draws.