It’s a new season and a fresh start for Almen Abdi. The creative midfielder failed to shine in his first year at Hillsborough, starting just 11 Championship matches.
His form fluctuated, with head coach Carlos Carvalhal fielding him in a number of different positions, and a series of injury problems also took its toll. Wednesdayites did not see the best of Abdi.
But the 30-year-old, a reported transfer target for Leeds United over the summer, insists he is enjoying life at S6 and wants to help end Wednesday’s 17-year top-flight exile.
Abdi said: “I’m happy here. The lads are great and I get on so well with everyone.
“The injuries were very frustrating for me last year. Every time I felt good something stopped me so I need to prevent that happening again.
“I’ve had a few injuries in the past but I think the main thing for me is to stay fit so I can show what I can do on the pitch. If I’m not fit, I don’t produce my best.
“Hopefully I will get a good run in the side.”
When asked for his preferred position, Abdi said: “I feel most comfortable in the middle. 4-3-3 is ideal for me because I’m not really a sitting midfielder. I’m more of a number eight or 10.
“Wherever the manager sees me, I will play there. He expects more from me and I expect more from myself. It is normal.
“I just need to be fit.”
Kosovo-born Abdi underwent knee surgery in April, a knock which meant he played no part in the promotion run-in. His last Owls appearance came in defeat to Leeds United at the end of February.
“It was hard watching the team, especially in the play-offs,” he said. “I remember after the Huddersfield game when we lost feeling very low because I thought we deserved to win it.
“But that’s football. Sometimes luck doesn’t go your way.”
Abdi is confident Wednesday have what it takes to be in the running for an automatic promotion spot.
He said: “The aim is the top two but we need a better start. We were really good in the last couple of months of last year but we could have definitely done better in the early part of the season.
“We have great quality in the squad and George [Boyd] coming in strengthens us. I think we have a chance to go up but the Championship is very tough.”
Abdi, who played a pivotal role in Watford securing promotion to the Premier League two years ago, said: “You have to be consistent in this league, especially away from home. We lost a few home games we shouldn’t have done last year.
“The distance between ourselves and the top two was too big so we couldn’t bridge the gap.
“We did very well against the top teams and struggled against the smaller sides. We need to be better and more consistent.
“The team is on the right lines but we have to learn from the past two years. We are more experienced now to handle everything and I think that will help us. We have to use that to our advantage.”
This article was originally published the The Star’s Sheffield Wednesday Kick-Off supplement