BIRTHDAY boy Richard O’Donnell has been backed by captain Rob Jones to blossom in between the sticks as Sheffield Wednesday target their first three-point haul away from home at Stevenage tonight.
O’Donnell is set for an extended run in the team after manager Gary Megson confirmed last night first-choice goalkeeper Nicky Weaver will be out of action until December with a knee injury.
Weaver, aged 32, jetted out to America last week to see a specialist surgeon for treatment on his ongoing cartilage problem and, while Megson said it was “nowhere near as bad” as first feared, the lifelong Owls fan has had surgery and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
But his enforced absence opens the door for O’Donnell, who turned 23 yesterday, to make the position his own.
Commanding centre-half Jones said: “Nicky is a big loss with his experience, talking and the way he reads the game.
“But Richard has come in and done extremely well.
“His save when it was 2-1 against MK Dons to keep us with the momentum was fantastic so there is no worries about Richard.
“He is a very good, young goalkeeper and I’m sure he will have a very prosperous career in the future.”
A graduate of the club’s youth system, O’Donnell has started five times this season and came on as an early tactical substitution in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy loss to Bradford.
Jones said: “It is all down to Richard as to how far he goes in the professional game.
“I’m not actually sure how many games he has played but he has come on massively since I arrived in March.
“He is a commanding presence, a big lad, and he has all the attributes of being a top goalkeeper.
“That will come with games.”
Megson has stressed he has no intention of signing a senior goalkeeper on a temporary basis despite Weaver’s injury woe.