DAVE Jones is acutely aware the Championship is a 46 match marathon and trying to predict who will be involved in the promotion shake-up come April is a risky business.
But the Sheffield Wednesday manager knows his players must improve defensively following the two-week international break if they are to challenge for a top six spot.
After four league matches, the Owls are still searching for their first clean sheet. So far, the club have shipped in 10 goals and recorded just one shut-out which came in the victory over Fulham in the Capital One Cup. Apart from the win over the Cottagers, Jones’ troops have conceded two goals in every match.
It is a worrying pattern which threatens to undermine the club’s chances of following in the footsteps of Norwich City and Southampton by achieving back-to-back promotions.
Jones boasts an impressive track record of producing sides who score goals for fun. He views attack as the best form of defence. Nonetheless, Jones will be slightly concerned by the Owls shaky rearguard.
Their current defensive frailities are in complete contrast to last season. After Jones took over from Gary Megson, the Owls kept six clean sheets in their final 12 outings as they pipped Sheffield United to the second automatic promotion spot.
Having stepped up a level, Wednesday have leaked several soft goals, prompting Jones to sign Martin Taylor before the August transfer window shut. The towering centre-half was an unused substitute at Crystal Palace and will be looking to make his Owls debut at Brighton and Hove Albion a week on Friday.
First-choice right-back Lewis Buxton recently told The Star: “We have to defend as a team and a unit.
“Everyone is still finding their feet at this level but I’m sure things, in time, will slot into place.”
Vice chairman Paul Aldridge will host the club’s first fans forum of the season next Wednesday. The event will take place in the Dooleys restaurant located in Hillsborough’s south stand and gets underway at 7pm.