"We're better than last time": Bullen issues rallying call as Sheffield Wednesday prepare for season opener at Reading
Sheffield Wednesday are heading into their Championship opener with Reading on Saturday stronger than they were last season, according to caretaker manager Lee Bullen.
The Owls, who found themselves in play-off contention last time out after a Steve Bruce-led resurgence from the Championship’s lower reaches, have shown little in the way of distraction following his departure, recording four wins from six pre-season clashes.
And former captain Bullen, preparing to oversee his ninth competitive match in a third stint as caretaker manager, believes they are well equipped to challenge the division’s top six once again.
The Scot said: "I think we are stronger than last season. That's no disrespect to the lads who have left but I just think we are a little bit stronger with regards to the energy we have had this season.”
Much has been made of changes to the club’s backroom staff and training regime in recent months, with former Manchester United and England sports science authority Tony Strudwick overseeing tweaks to their regime since signing in June.
With regard to fitness, Bullen has described the club’s pre-season approach as ‘more old-school’ than in years previously, and with six first team players having left the club this summer, he says the feeling within a leaner camp is one of readiness.
"I think that we are working with better numbers compared to last year,” he said, “when you have got about 30 players, it is very difficult to keep them all on side and happy, especially when the majority of them are fit.
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"Working with a squad of around 20-25 maximum is probably better. Twenty players and three goalkeepers, I think it's ideal.
“At times, you are going have injuries and that's where you are hoping you can take from the academy to fill in gaps here and there.”
Gaps have been already been filled by freebie trio Kadeem Harris, Moses Odubajo and Julian Börner, who have all impressed since coming in.
He said: “All the lads have settled in really well and have earned the respect of their team-mates. The lads have taken to them and they have certainly settled in well and they are positive additions to the group.”
Bullen also admits the club hope to strengthen further and will try to add ‘one or two’ names to the squad before the transfer window closes on August 8.