He’s had it rough, but Chey Dunkley can still prove to be a good signing for Sheffield Wednesday
Let’s face it, it’s been a major source of frustration.
When Chey Dunkley signed on a free transfer for Sheffield Wednesday back in August, it was almost unanimously well-received by supporters as an astute piece of business, a big character in a position that had been something of a saga for the club the previous season.
A nasty leg break suffered while playing for previous club Wigan back in February? A hurdle to get over, sure, but one that all indications suggested he’d navigate successfully.
“It has been a journey,” he said in his first media engagement as a Wednesday player.
"But I feel like I’m always learning, always trying to develop. And I think that this is a big test for me to come to a real big club in Sheffield Wednesday, and hopefully all goes well.”
To the frustration of everybody involved, the fact is that it hasn’t gone at all well. Yet. Dunkley is yet to make an appearance for wither the first team or the club’s under-23s and four months into his time at Wednesday isn’t expected back in full training until after Christmas.
We were told in pre-season that he was a month or so away from a return to fitness, then that he would step in some time after the first international break in October, then after the international break in November. He’s clearly had setbacks.
And while the frustration of fans has been no secret, you can guarantee it pales into insignificance compared to that of Dunkley himself.
The confident defender spoke of his desire to set roots at Wednesday, the biggest club he has signed for since battling his way up from playing in front of crowds of 200 people in non-league football after he was cruelly released by Crewe Alexandra as a teenager.
This, after becoming a fan favourite at Wigan with over 100 whole-hearted league performances, remains his big chance to step up to achieve something special.
Soon after his signing, Dunkley spoke of wanting to achieve promotion with Wednesday and that he felt he could offer the kind of leadership and character the club had so badly missed, many have felt, since the departure of Glenn Loovens and Jose Semedo years ago.
And for all the concerns over what condition his body will be in when he returns, whether the long-term injury will have a lasting effect on his football attributes, that character doesn’t leave you. In fact it may return enhanced.
From coaches at non-league Kidderminster Harriers to former teammates at Oxford and Wigan, The Star has spoken to a number of people who have testified to Dunkley’s personality, hard-working attitude and determination.
But not only that, with a strong and fit body, Dunkley has been unanimously described as a top player who stepped into Championship football with ease two season ago.
A lot remains to be seen on the 28-year-old and there are a number of variables to be thrown into the mix before there can be a definitive call made on whether he will turn out to be a worthy signing for the Owls.
But he arrived on a free and has a contract that doesn’t run out until the summer of 2022. He shouldn’t be written-off out just yet.