Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: How Daniel Pudil rescued his Owls career
Daniel Pudil's new Owls deal underlines how fast fortunes in football can change.
Pre-Christmas, the Czech Republic international was in and out of the Wednesday team due to injuries and a loss of form. His long-term future at Hillsborough looked in serious doubt.
Pudil was primarily used as a left back by Carlos Carvalhal. It is a demanding job which Pudil performed well in his first two seasons at the club.
But the 32-year-old found it hard going in that position in the first half of this campaign. Too often it appeared Pudil did not have the energy to get up and down the pitch and play the role anymore. His drop in standards culminated in Carvalhal turning to Morgan Fox.
Pudil recognised his performances had not been up to scratch and he went away and worked hard on improving his game. He is a grafter and hungry to do well for himself, his family and the football club.
His hard work paid off in the New Year.
One of Jos Luhukay’s first acts as Owls boss was to alter Pudil’s role. He moved inside to centre half and he has excelled in Luhukay’s three-man defence.
With Tom Lees and Joost van Aken injured, Wednesday needed Pudil back to his best and he has put in a series of top displays to help tighten the team up defensively.
Playing at centre-half suits Pudil and he appears to have found his home in a back three.
“This formation we are playing I feel much more comfortable,” he recently said. “I don’t want to say I cant play left back anymore but age is killing me a little bit, I can not get up and down like I used to. I feel much better in this position.
“Maybe this position can extend my career a little longer and fingers crossed I can get another few years over here.”
It is highly likely that Luhukay will be looking to add a minimum of one centre-half this summer. Club captain Glenn Loovens is leaving at the end of the season and it remains to be seen whether the Owls will be able to prize Frederico Venancio away from Vitoria de Setubal.
With competition for places set to increase, there is no guarantee Pudil will be a regular starter next season. The likelihood is he, along with the rest of the squad, will have to prove himself all over again to Luhukay.
It is a challenge which won’t faze Pudil. He’s a tough, determined character. He’s a seasoned Championship campaigner and his experience and knowledge will be invaluable to Wednesday’s younger players over the next 12 months.