SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Double act lifts Dave Jones

Prayers answered: Michail Antonio is repaying the Owls' faith
Prayers answered: Michail Antonio is repaying the Owls' faith
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IT COULD be said that Michail Antonio and Jermaine Johnson are two of a kind.

Dave Jones sees differences between the two speedy wingers but he is glad that both are now terrorising defenders.

It means that Antonio, after a relatively undistinguished start to the season, has begun to show the sort of form that made him a major target in the summer.

Johnson stole the show almost from the off but Antonio too took the eye in the second half against Millwall last Saturday and during the Cup win against Fulham.

Jones agrees that the last two games amount to the £750,000 signing’s best spell since he rejoined the club and since he was a key man in the promotion run-in last season.

“There’s been that expectation level around him. When you bring players in, they do have a settling-in period,” said Jones. “We’re pleased that Michail has started to show what he’s got, what we have paid for.

“He and JJ are different. Probably JJ is technically better. But Michail will get that. They can learn off each other. What JJ does have over Michail at the moment is experience.

“JJ is slight and quick. Michail is powerful and quick. We’re really pleased with JJ as well.”

Although Jones praised Gary Madine after the Fulham game he also thinks no player can ever stop trying to improve.

“If Gary wants to keep being good at this level, he’s got a lot of work to do”, said the Owls manager. “It’s the same for all the players: he’s got to work as hard as anybody else here.

“People who might have been fans’ favourites won’t be our favourites, because we don’t have any. We want to push players to their limits. Every player, no matter who they are, should always be striving for that.

“Forget what’s happened before. It’s what we do now and in the future that matters.”

Jones says that Madines has “all the attributes” to be a 25-goals-a-season striker. “He’s got a long way to go.

“As with everybody, we’re not satisfied with anything. If anybody thinks getting promotion is enough, well after the three [league] games we have played they know how tough it is.

“It will get harder. Teams will get quicker and stronger, and we have to cope with that.”

Jones has a decision to make for the game at Crystal Palace tomorrow: whether to keep Madine in, or recall Chris O’Grady, who made such an impact as a sub against Millwall and was rested for the Cup tie, in which Madine scored a penalty winner.

Apart from that issue up front, it could be the same side that started the Millwall game.

The spotlight has fallen on the 17-match unbeaten run under Jones - it is 19 matches unbeaten for the club, when the two games before he took charge are taken into account.

But he says: “I don’t think about it. We just try to get as many points and wins under our belt as we can. We haven’t achieved anything. We’re three league games and two games into a new season.

“What went on before is done and dusted. It’s about this season, not what happened last year.

“The run might be something to be proud of. But we’re after a bigger prize. We’ll continue to strive for that.”

Wednesday are trying to carry on tightening up after conceding eight goals until the clean sheet against Fulham.

But Place have had a worse problem in this respect, letting in 14 goals in their five games.

They were spanked 4-1 at Preston in the Capital One Cup in midweek, which prompted boss Dougie Freedman to say: “These are experienced players who have played in the Championship and played at a decent level so you’d like to think they’re capable of doing decent jobs, but right now we need to have a look in the mirror.”

Teams and ref

EAGLES (possible): Speroni, Ward, Ramage, Blake, Parr, Zaha, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bolasie, Williams, Easter. (4-4-1-1)

OWLS (possible): Kirkland, Buxton, Llera, Beevers, R Johnson, Antonio, Semedo, McCabe, J Johnson, Rodri, Madine or O’Grady. (4-4-2).

Rob Lewis (Shrewsbury). Refereed almost entirely in the bottom two divisions last season, and his games this season have been Preston v Huddersfield in the Capital One Cup, Scunthorpe v Crewe in League One and Dagenham v Gillingham in League Two.