Alex Miller: 'Solid citizen' squad assembled by Darren Moore means Sheffield Wednesday can cope even if Barry Bannan doesn't play

The sun was shining, the atmosphere joyous. With only a few minutes to go, the chatter around Hillsborough was about who was up next and to which pub first.

Thursday, 5th May 2022, 6:00 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 7:27 am

And then the mood soured. A fallen soldier, nay, their Sergeant; Barry Bannan strewn across the turf holding his hamstring in some discomfort.

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"Well of course,” was the response both on the terraces and in the press box. For all the injuries Wednesday have battled this season, Bannan is the one outfield player not to have faced a spell out. This is Wednesday, after all. Wednesdayites aren’t allowed nice things.

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It would be tough, but Sheffield Wednesday can cope without Barry Bannan if it comes to it.

Such is his importance to the side, in a fortnight in which he had been showered with gongs and admiration, days out from a play-off semi-final, of course this was the moment fate chose to strike. The collective eye-roll could be heard from Wadsley Bridge.

Whether Bannan is rendered fully fit to take to the field at the Stadium of Light on Friday evening remains to be seen. His absence would be a monster blow, of course.

At times this season the ‘Wee Scottish Man’ has been less a talisman than he has been a one-man goal contribution machine. At his frightening best he is playing not one but two divisions below where he should be a frankly it shows.

Nervousness around his possible exemption from the side is understandable. Who would fulfil the role in behind the strikers he has made his own? Fiz? Pato? Is Windass ready for the prospect of two matches in four days?

There is a feeling though, that this squad is more capable of deputising for such a monstrous possibility than it has been in previous seasons. In times gone by Wednesday sides would fold at the first sign of an excuse, happy to hide behind the headline of woe.

Comeback wins, earnest interviews; this squad is experienced and full of leaders all of a sudden. Or, as the manager calls them, ‘Solid Citizens’.

“I looked at the team last summer and there was such an imbalance to the team. It just wasn't right,” Moore said on a summer of recruitment that completely change the feel of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. “It wasn't there.

“We had to readdress the balance of the squad and get some solid citizens in place. Once we got the solid citizens in place, it was about getting that consistency and getting them settled into a formation and formula. That’s what has happened this season.

“Is that what I had in mind looking towards this part of the season? No, but it was about making sure the squad performed consistently over the course of the season so that we would be in the shake up come the end of the season.

“Yes, you can look at the squad and draw back on it but that was my thinking at the start of the season.”

A year or two ago you’d look at the potential loss of a player such as Bannan and stick an opposition win on your acca. It would make it a much bigger task of course, but this lot will rally far better than the old lot would’ve.

I reckon he’ll play, by the way.