Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: Which out-of-contract players the Owls should look to retain

As the end of the 2018/19 campaign draws ever closer, time is running out for the Owls' nine senior out-of-contract players to earn new deals.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 11:10 am
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 16:35 pm

Boss Steve Bruce, renowned for being meticulous with his planning and preparation, has described it as the "horrible side of management" but has made it clear he wants to revamp his Wednesday squad.

"In management you have to make big decisions, and that’s what you are judged upon," he said. "Sometimes, they are not popular, and that will probably be the situation we will be in."

Owls star Keiren Westwood

Bruce believes the team needs a shake-up.

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The four-time promotion winner said: "When I think of the play-off final (in 2016) when I was involved against Sheffield Wednesday, 90 per cent of the squad is still here.

"They are three years older and maybe it’s time to have a freshen up, and that’s what we will look at."

But who should stay and who should go?

Keiren Westwood

Wednesday should make it their top priority to get Westwood tied down to a new deal as quickly as they can. Oozing class and confidence in his own ability, Westwood is a top performer at Championship level and an integral part of the Owls team. He is reportedly on the radar of Premier League whipping boys Huddersfield Town. It would be a major loss if Westwood goes elsewhere. He is at the peak of his powers and Wednesday would struggle to adequately replace him. VERDICT: Keep, keep, keep

Liam Palmer

He has flourished in 2019. The 27-year-old has benefited from a long run in the side, excelling in either full-back position under Bruce. His outstanding form culminated in him winning his first cap for Scotland last month. Palmer is definitely worth offering fresh terms to and he will not break the bank, either. VERDICT: Keep

Marco Matias

The toughest one to call. Matias has played 32 matches this season - the most appearances he has made by some distance in his Wednesday career. Not only has the 29-year-old's versatility proved useful, Matias has also chipped in with seven goals. But his performances have been inconsistent and he has not started many times since Bruce's appointment. He is a frustrating figure but I feel he would be a handy squad player. VERDICT: Keep (But I don't think Wednesday will)

George Boyd

No one can fault his effort or attitude. He covers a lot of ground in midfield and clocked up his 50th appearance for the Owls last time out against Bristol City. However, Boyd's best years are behind him. His end product and decision-making in the final third flatters to deceive. At 33, he is entering the twilight of his career and does not fit in with Bruce's long-term vision. Bruce is well aware he needs to lower the average age of the squad and inject some extra speed into the team. VERDICT: Release

Kieran Lee

He has been a superb servant to the club and his contribution in Wednesday's run to the 2016 Championship Play-Off Final should never be forgotten. But Lee has not played a competitive match in over 16 months due to a host of injury problems. It is great that he has resumed full training in the past couple of weeks and figured in two second-string matches but Wednesday have to look to the future. VERDICT: Release

Gary Hooper

Yes, he has had his injury problems. Yes, he is one of Wednesday's top earners. Yes, the Owls may have to make some cutbacks to continue complying with Profitability and Sustainability regulations. But, for me, Hooper is the best finisher at the club and he has shown glimpses of his quality since returning to the team. I would give him a new deal. VERDICT: Keep

Daniel Pudil

The experienced Czech Republic international has been a good player for the Owls at his best. But Pudil has not featured since Luhukay's departure. Wednesday could do with bringing in more pace at the back. VERDICT: Release

Almen Abdi and David Jones

The out-of-favour midfield pair were deemed surplus to requirements a long time ago. VERDICT: Release