The four-cap Scotland centre-back, who arrived in a deadline day move from German second-tier giants Hamburg in the summer, has had to watch from afar as Wednesday’s defence ship 24 goals in 12 matches in 2020. The last time he sat on a first-team bench at the club was mid-September.
There’s no complicated reasoning behind his exclusion, Owls boss Garry Monk quite simply doesn’t seem to fancy him. Bates has battled injury and has trained with the club’s under-23s for much of the season. Dominic Iorfa appears to Monk’s first-choice man at the back, with club captain Tom Lees and Julian Börner dovetailing alongside him.
Asked of Bates’ possible involvement in the weeks ahead of football’s coronavirus suspension, the Wednesday boss seemed to play down any prospect of a selection u-turn.
“Not at this moment in time, but you never know and we will see how things go,” he said.
“You have to make these decisions. Some players are involved and some players are in and out of squads. These are the decisions that I have to make.
“Someone will always be left out, that’s just the nature of when you have the squad of this size.
“You make decisions on the players who you think are best to play and he [Bates] has found himself in a position where he has not been involved in the squads.”
Along with four others, Bates’ loan move is understood to be up at the end of June. The whirlwind nature of any return to Championship football could well offer a new way in for those set to the wayside previously.
Speaking to The Star last week, Monk said on player fitness: “The welfare of the players, in terms of the preparation side, physically, is to get them prepared when we haven't even got phase three signed off yet.
“We'd need at least four weeks of phase three to even have them ready for a game, let alone nine games in a short period of time.”