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Straight into training: Julian Bennett. Picture: Steve Ellis
Straight into training: Julian Bennett. Picture: Steve Ellis
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GARY Megson is backing Julian Bennett to beef up his Owls team’s defending next season.

The new left-back is a strapping six-footer and can help to prevent the sort of leaks that were evident last season, believes Megson.

The Owls manager told The Star: “Julian is a good defender; he’s decent in the air, he can also play centre-half, though that’s not the position he’ll fill here.

“He’s a decent passer, he likes to tackle, he has a great attitude and will be good to have around the place.

“Last season, we let in 16 goals from set-pieces; we gave away 10 penalties and we were 17th for goals against yet we were also seventh highest [League One] scorers, and if you are scoring so many goals then really you should finish higher than 15th.”

So he plans for the team to tighten up: “There have to be improvements when we haven’t got the ball.

“Julian will make us stronger in that department. We need to be stronger at the back and in the middle of the park.”

Megson also revealed that Bennett, who has signed a two-year contract, had other options as he prepared to leave Nottingham Forest on a free:

“I’m really pleased that he’s chosen to join us. He had other options; this one suited him. The stature of the club sells itself,” he said. “Hopefully he can help us make a good start.”

Bennett, who was signed by Megson for Forest from Walsall, said: “It’s fantastic to be here and I am looking forward to the challenge.

“When a club like Sheffield Wednesday shows interest in you, it doesn’t take too much thinking about. I’m a hard-working player who gives 100 per cent and I’m ready to get stuck into my football at Sheffield Wednesday.”

The 26-year-old has proved his fitness after a cruciate ligament injury and spent the first half of last season playing Championship football while on loan at Crystal Palace.

He had been out for 14 months after suffering the injury in a 4-2 home defeat by Doncaster on Boxing Day, 2008, after being Player of the Year when Forest won promotion in the season before that.

Owls striker target Neil Mellor has been linked with Doncaster, Southampton and Watford.