Former Owl backs Sheffield Wednesday players to rise above 'basket case' off-field issues
Sheffield Wednesday need to prepare themselves for the fact they will be a highlight fixture for many clubs in League One, according to one of their former players.
David Prutton, who saw out his career with the Owls before becoming a respected Sky Sports pundit on EFL football, believes his former club can bounce back from relegation to the third tier at the first attempt and build a promotion charge.
But some circumstances will be against them, he said, which will be nothing new given the off-field distractions that have plagued their last few months.
The squad returned to training yesterday and Prutton believes they will be looking forward to being able to ‘get on with the football’.
He told The Star: “As ridiculous as this whole circus around them has been in terms of wages, contracts, embargoes, players should only concentrate on that 90 minutes have that goal in mind. It can be so demoralising to be in a place that is being run in such a way and can from the outside be seen as a bit of a basket case.
“That's where the professionalism of being a footballer kicks in, to be in control of what you can be in control of, which is your performance on a matchday. That has to be of paramount importance.
“Everything else they have to put their faith in the people above them and hopefully they can get that sorted and move on from there. They have to be fit and they have to be ready to be a team that fights for promotion.”
Though Wednesday are one of a number of big-name clubs in this season’s third tier, Prutton fears some of the smaller clubs will be out to take the Owls’ scalp, especially at Hillsborough.
The extra motivation visiting players at smaller clubs take is something Wednesday players will have to get used to.
“What they'll find straight away is that, like it or lump it, they'll be among the favourites,” he said. “Especially when we start getting crowds back, opposition players will start going to Hillsborough and look forward to it. They'll wake up thinking 'I'm playing at Hillsborough today'.
“Whoever is in that squad and whoever it revolves around has got to get their head around that pretty sharpish because regardless of the quality, they'll be seen as a big fish in that pond and something to go at. They can't shirk away from that, it's something they need to understand.”
The blueprint for success is there for Darren Moore’s men, Prutton said, and they don’t have to look back too far at what can be achieved.
“Look at what Hull City did,” he said. “They fell of a cliff in the Championship, they nosedived and there was a fear the next season was going to be a slog and another fight. Credit to what they've done with young players and players who were already there. It's been a wonderful achievement. That's what they need to go for really, I think.
“Between now and that first ball being kicked it could be a completely different team and set-up, a completely different face to it.”