GARY Megson cites running power as one of the reasons why Reda Johnson has emerged as one of the leaders of the Wednesday pack this season.
The defender who had a mixed time after being signed by the club as a centre-half has been a big success at left-back.
His manager traces his progress back to the summer after the squad reported back for pre-season training.
“Reda was one of our strongest runners. He can run all day.
“When we came back in pre-
season we were doing 1,200 -metre runs and he was lapping it up. Long-distance runs, quick stuff, strength - he’s got it all in abundance.”
Pace and stamina have enabled the Benin international to make the left-back spot his own - and he has chipped in with three goals, including the winner
against Leyton Orient last Saturday, when he showed his aerial power.
But if he has to revert to centre-half against Aldershot tomorrow then he will take that in his stride as well, believes Megson.
“Reda has a great attitude as well,” says the manager.
“Maybe when he was brought in as a centre half he didn’t have the experience we were looking for; Rob Jones has got that, but he doesn’t have the physical attributes that Reda has.
“We’ve been using Reda’s qualities at left-back, where he’s looked as if he’s been playing there for a long time, and we’re delighted with him.
“He’s quick, he’s got a bit of talent in that left foot; he’s obviously good in the air, and he has a great desire to score goals.
“He scored on Saturday
and had another one chalked off
- I still can’t see what was wrong with that [a header from a Ben Marshall assist].
“It was even worse at Bury; all he did was jump higher than the goalkeeper. The referee took a point off us there.”
Johnson is favourite to replace the suspended Danny Batth at centre-back tomorrow, with Julian Bennett or Mark Reynolds coming in at left back, and the big man seems certain to be looking once again for a goal from set-pieces.
Megson feels that a switch back to his former position will cause no problems: “I don’t think that will have an impact, if we have to do that.
“Lewis Buxton, when he’s been fit, has played right-back, centre half and in the middle of the park.
“We have quite a few players who can play in different positions.
“A lot of that comes down to honesty from them. They don’t start moaning when they have to play in a different position; they give it their best shot.”
Jones’ return from suspension, Batth’s ban and the ineligibility of loan men Miguel Llera, Ben Marshall, Stephen Bywater and Sanchez Watt mean changes, some of which seem obvious.
Besides the back-
four reshuffle - with loan right back James Tavernier set to keep his place - Richard O’Donnell is almost certain to come in for Bywater.
But Megson has options for the left-side midfield spot held by Marshall; including maybe another chance for Jermaine Johnson, who displeased the boss with his reaction to being taken off in the cup tie at Morecambe and has not figured in the last two games.
David Prutton, Chris Sedgwick, Giles Coke and Liam Palmer will also hope for recalls, and a midfield pool of them, James O’Connor, Jose Semedo and Chris Lines would offer choices about who plays wide.
Megson said: “We’ll be fielding our strongest possible team and hopefully we’ll keep up what we have been doing at home. We want to do as well as we can in the cup.”
Wednesday and Aldershot have met only four times and the Shots have yet to win, but they have drawn twice, 1-1 at home and 0-0 at Hillsborough.
One to watch
Danny Hylton has scored 12 goals in 26 appearances, including a purple patch of six in six games in September/October. The 22-year-old striker netted against West Ham and Rochdale in the Carling Cup.