Alan Biggs: The 'P' word that Sheffield Wednesday should be preoccupied with this summer... and it's not promotion!

Sheffield Wednesday's priority this summer? Make that another P word '“ pace.

Wednesday, 9th May 2018, 11:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th May 2018, 11:46 am
Owls boss Jos Luhukay

Prizes for saying that? Absolutely none. Prices? Potentially high.

Which again leads to movement out of the club as the key to what comes in. Suddenly, though, that movement looks like being minimal in both cases. Boy, how the outlook has changed in the last few weeks. But it will be crucial still to see how the Owls manoeuvre around Financial Fair Play.

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Recruitment can be quality over quantity. Two or three choice signings, loans perhaps, to complete what is, when all are fit, a formidable squad.

Where Wednesday can have the edge on most is that the common wish of managers is for that one elusive striker. A goalscorer is the answer to everything and a masking agent for shortfalls in other departments.

Do the Owls need to recruit up front? No. Although Jos Luhukay is bound to be alive to all possibilities, this is surely one position where Wednesday are well equipped and covered.

Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper, Atdhe Nuhiu, Lucas Joao, Steven Fletcher: that should be a fearsome fivesome. And Jordan Rhodes. Potentially still the most fearsome of the lot in terms of goal record. But, of course, Rhodes is the name that carries a question mark.

Owls boss Jos Luhukay

Can Luhukay find a way to get the best out of him, as was fleetingly suggested in late season? Or should he look to move Rhodes on? If the latter, no-one will come close to redeeming the £8m outlay – or the player’s wages. Which leaves a loan to a Championship club, on subsidised terms, and potentially to a rival.

The ideal solution perhaps is to persevere at S6. And only if Rhodes were to go, freeing up some of the wage bill, would the Owls need to seek a striker.

Defence is different. Whether he plays with three centre backs or a back four, Wednesday could do with another commanding presence in the middle following the departure of Glenn Loovens, much as Tom Lees, loanee Frederico Venancio (his future still to be decided) and the newly resigned Daniel Pudil have made a fair fist of the job. Jordan Thorniley, too.

Wing backs? Jack Hunt has the pace and tenacity in that position, if not the final ball. Another player is required there, especially with Ross Wallace released – and on the left side, too, assuming the admirable Adam Reach is now regarded as a central midfielder. Barry Bannan can be a kingpin in that position, Kieran Lee also (assuming fit).

But there are question marks elsewhere, putting midfield on the target list. Sam Hutchinson? A first pick on ability, no doubt. Can he stay fit? Can he avoid suspensions?

One thing’s for sure – he has to change, because the game as it’s now played certainly won’t. Ex Owls boss Gary Megson is a fan – with this rider: “He needs to calm himself down a little bit because they need him on the pitch.”

Above all, can Wednesday find that zippy attacker, who can change the game from deep? Forestieri carries that burden almost single-handed.

Funding? Well, again, it’s unrealistic to carry three good goalkeepers, now that Cameron Dawson and Joe Wildsmith have proved themselves more than capable. Could a substantial bid for Keiren Westwood grease the wheels?

Some questions, yes, but much less of an overhaul needed than I thought likely at one time. And that’s about the squad as a whole starting to come together - with Luhukay’s methods suggesting he can weld a fighting unit from much of what he has already.