How Steve Bruce plans to freshen up his Sheffield Wednesday squad this summer

The summer transfer market represents a window of opportunity for Steve Bruce to revamp his bloated, unbalanced Sheffield Wednesday squad.

By Dom Howson
Friday, 17 May, 2019, 12:22

Like his predecessor Jos Luhukay, Bruce's recruitment plans are likely to focus on young, emerging talent.

The former Manchester United defender has never hidden from the fact he wants to reduce the average age of the Owls' squad. It was noticeable how on January transfer deadline-day - the same day as Bruce being unveiled as Wednesday boss - that the club recruited three players between the 23-27 age bracket in Dominic Iorfa, Achraf Lazaar and Rolando Aarons. The trio added some much-needed speed and energy in the wide areas in the final months of the 2018/19 campaign.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce

Bruce told The Star: "We want to play with a bit more intensity and pace so we need certain players to do that."

Another thing we know is Bruce's ideal squad size is 24. He has gone on record as saying Wednesday have too many professionals on their books. 

Speaking before the trip to Norwich City in mid-April, he said: “I have got 26 outfield players training today. That’s too high a number. It’s impossible to keep everybody happy, it’s unhealthy.”

It was no surprise just hours after their season finale with Queens Park Rangers that the club confirmed six of their out-of-contract players will be released at the end of their present deals. Daniel Pudil, George Boyd, David Jones, Almen Abdi, Marco Matias and Gary Hooper - all in their thirties - will leave at the end of June.

Having cleared the decks, Bruce says it is time to freshen things up.

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"Let's not forget that this squad has been together for the last three to four years and has twice been very, very close to getting promoted," he said. "But, in my opinion, I don't think it would be possible to ask them to go again four years later and that is why we have made the decisions that we have."

It promises to be a busy summer at Hillsborough, with Bruce admitting he wants to make at least six summer signings.

But Bruce has also indicated there could be outgoings. He has previously stated the club have too many strikers.

Although Hooper is departing S6, Jordan Rhodes is set to return following the expiry of his loan deal at Norwich City to keep their forward options at six.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for Rhodes or Sam Winnall as Bruce seeks to turn the Owls into promotion contenders next season.

Bruce said: "In management you have to make big decisions, and that’s what you are judged upon.

"Sometimes, they are not popular, and that will probably be the situation we will be in."