Sheffield Wednesday: Antonio return boosts Owls

Michail Antonio after scoring in the 5-2 win against Reading in November
Michail Antonio after scoring in the 5-2 win against Reading in November
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Michail Antonio’s return to the squad has given the depleted Owls a major boost as they strive to sign players on loan before tomorrow’s game at Reading and overcome a defence injury crisis.

Antonio is challenging to make his first start in almost three months, against his former club, after boss Stuart Gray revealed that the winger has been joining in full training all this week.

Even if he is only a sub and likely to play at least some part in the game it provides much needed reinforcement as the Owls keep up their attempt to sign at least one more striker, with the forward department further weakened by Jermaine Johnson’s suspension.

The need for a centre half remains acute with Glenn Loovens still doubtful and Miguel Llera the club’s only fully fit centre back.

Loan players have to be signed by noon tomorrow to be eligible for the Reading game that afternoon.

Gray has been given the go-ahead by managers in some cases only to be turned down by players who wanted to stay put and fight for places.

In other cases the Owls boss is waiting for the outcome of inquiries.

He also said: “We’re trying to get players in, at the back and up front.

“There are several options but I would think there’s not only Stuart Gray but several Championship clubs looking at the same players, and they have to drop into the budget as well.”

Gray regards Antonio as a possible option up front but thinks his best position is on the wing.

The former Royals man injured a knee after playing in the first 16 games of the season.

He came back as a late sub in the New Year’s Day match against Blackpool, but suffered a recurrence of the knee problem in training the follow day.

Gray said: “Fingers crossed he has turned the corner and can stay out of the treatment room.

“We’re strongest on the right-hand side, with Maguire, Antonio and Palmer. but then you lose JJ and Coke through suspension. We know what Antonio can give us; hopefully he can have a run like last season’s when he had a very good spell.“