Sheffield Wednesday: How Joey Pelupessy has brought the best out of Barry Bannan  

Pelupessy has been praised by Owls boss Jos Luhukay
Pelupessy has been praised by Owls boss Jos Luhukay

Soldiers and artists.

It was a phrase coined by former Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray when discussing the importance of balance in a squad. 

And it is something the 2018 Owls team have in the midfield engine room with Joey Pelupessy and Barry Bannan, according to Jos Luhukay. Pelupessy and Bannan have struck up a strong partnership in the centre, working well in tandem to give Wednesday a solid platform to build on.

Pelupessy, regarded as a holding midfield, does a lot of the "dirty work" which goes unnoticed. It is an unglamorous job but the affable Dutchman enjoys tackling and disrupting the opposition's rhythm.

Pelupessy's combative skills enable playmaker Bannan to get on the ball and create chances for Wednesday's forward line. The Scotland international, a cult hero on the terraces, has kicked off the season in fine form. His energy, drive and eye for pass gives an extra dimension to Wednesday's attacking game.

"Joey makes Barry Bannan better," said Owls manager Luhukay. "Barry has fantastic quality when we have the ball in offensive situations but Joey will always cover him at the back.

Pelupessy and Barry Bannan have played well together in midfield

Pelupessy and Barry Bannan have played well together in midfield

"For example, when Barry goes offensive, Joey takes his position to fight and to work for Barry when we lose the ball.

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"Joey plays completely for the team but he also stays behind always to support Barry. Barry has different qualities but it is important we don't have two Barry Bannan's in the midfield. It is why it is a good balance between both."

Luhukay signed Pelupessy in a £500,000 deal from Dutch outfit Heracles Almelo last January. It took time for the 25-year-old to adapt to a new league and country, with his performances veering from good to ineffective.

But Luhukay is delighted with the way Pelupessy has acquitted himself. Pelupessy played particularly stood out at Reading before the international break. He was aggressive, broke up play and kept things simple in possession.

He said: "Joey has been with us eight months and has progressed.

"Joey is a team player and he can make other players better with his quality. I think he played a fantastic game against Reading.

"He is a team player. Sometimes these players from the outside are not so spectacular. He maybe doesn't give the last ball or go past two or three players and make something special.

"His quality is he does important work for the team. He wins ball, wins one-on-ones and to anticipate counter attacks from the opponents.

"He must give the team balance and stability in central midfield.

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"He has a lot of important qualities to help the team and give the team stability. He also did it fantastic in the last two and a half months of last season. He is now back to his best performances in the last games.”

The form of Pelupessy and Bannan is likely to keep new signing Josh Onomah out of the starting eleven for Saturday's visit of Stoke City. Onomah and Michael Hector may have to settle for places on the bench as the Owls chase a fourth straight league win.

Onomah, on loan from Tottenham until the end of the campaign, returned from international duty with the England Under-21s on Thursday. The Spurs trainee, who spent last season on loan at Aston Villa, only trained with his new teammates for the first time Thursday afternoon.

"He is a box-to-box player in the central midfield position,” said Luhukay. "Maybe the number eight position.

"Josh is a player who is very strong defensively but also has a good offensive transition. He is strong in the one against one and he also wins balls in his own half. He has a good view and eye and can play very good balls in our offensive situations.

"He can give qualities to the team and we must see how well he does. He is five and a half weeks into full training. 

"Josh played now with the national team, which was important for him to get minutes under his belt. But he has only played two or three games up to now so we must look when is the time he can help the team.”

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