Gary careful as Owls take strain

Hard graft: Mark Beevers and Mark Reynolds at work with Wednesday at Middlewood.       Picture: Steve Ellis
Hard graft: Mark Beevers and Mark Reynolds at work with Wednesday at Middlewood. Picture: Steve Ellis
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GARY Megson is wary of pushing his players too hard in training as the new season nears.

Several were rested for the friendly at Barnsley on Tuesday, and the Sheffield Wednesday manager admitted that his small squad had begun to feel the strain of the pre-season programme.

The fact that some of his squad had minor niggles influenced his planning and selection.

If he had a great number of players to choose from, he could have altered the side to a larger extent during the Oakwell match.

But he felt that the game still gave him food for thought - and now he will be pondering his line-up for tomorrow’s final friendly, against Stoke at Hillsborough (1pm).

Megson reflects: “If that had been a League game [against Barnsley]. we would have changed the way we were playing. The idea is about practice and fitness, and from that point of view you learn more from a defeat than from some of the other games.

“We’re light on numbers. There have been one or two issues in training where you can’t keep flogging a dead horse; we’re asking too much of them.

“We’ve got to be careful we don’t overtrain and in trying to do too much too quickly end up with a load of injuries.”

He says that “three or four” players sat out the Oakwell game “with not major injuries but tightness in hamstrings, probably because of the workload we’ve been doing.”

Notable absentees were Lewis Buxton, who also missed the second half of the Leeds game, with a hamstring niggle; and new signings Julian Bennett and David Prutton. Captain Rob Jones and Chris Sedgwick played as subs.

For tomorrow’s game, Megson will probably want to move as close as possible to his August 6 starting line-up.

It presents an opportunity for Danny Batth to get back in the old routine alongside Jones, now that he has come back on loan for five months.

The Wolves youngster who served the Owls so well last season will still have to get used to playing with a new left back, Bennett, and two new midfield players ahead of him, Prutton and Jose Semedo.

Otsemobor has had injections in his achilles tendons, and at Barnsley there was a repeat of last season’s scenerio, with both right backs, Otsemobor and Buxton, out at the same time.

But Megson says that he is not unduly worried about the fitness of the ones who did not figure at Barnsley: “None of them is a concern apart from Jon Otsemobor, and he’s not a massive concern because we knew the process that we were going to have to go through with him.

“Quite a few have had little knocks and strains, probably from over-use, but they’ll be all right.”

Megson coached at Stoke, and Buxton and James O’Connor played for them.

City have former Owls duo Kenwyne Jones and Glenn Whelan but boss Tony Pulis seems unlikely to field a full-strength side tomorrow as his team faced Hajduk Split in the Europa League last night.