Sheffield Wednesday: JJ speeds back into Gray plans

Jermaine Johnson takes on the Barnsley defence
Jermaine Johnson takes on the Barnsley defence
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Jermaine Johnson’s re-emergence is timely because of the fresh problem in the Owls’ defence.

Not that JJ is likely to be given a place in the back four now that Joe Mattock is out.

But Mattock’s exit probably means a switch to left back for Jeremy Helan and a reduction in Stuart Gray’s options on the wings.

Gray said it was great to see Johnson back in action, after he added extra spark to the team’s efforts to force a breakthrough against Middlesbrough.

The Jamaica international’s chances of earning a place in the starting line-up seem open to question, but while ever the only other attacking, fit wide men are Jacques Maghoma and Chris Maguire, he may be able to make an impact whether it is starting or going on as a sub.

Maguire has not scored for five games - not a crisis but unusual by his previous standards. He and Maghoma were both taken off during the last half hour of the Boro game; Atdhe Nuhiu and Johnson were sent on and both made an impact.

JJ has extra incentives to prove his worth: he was apologetic after being sent off for a foul in the home game game against Barnsley and having to serve a four-match ban - and he is out to earn a new contract, with his present one expiring this summer.

His pace and eagerness to run at defenders caused Middlesbrough problems - and he will have happy memories of Yeovil: he scored in the 2-1 home win against them in February, 2012, and in the 2-0 victory at Huish Park in October, 2010.

Gray has shown a willingness to use JJ’s talents when the time is right. For example, the manager saw a need to play on Middlesbrough’s left back as last week’s game wore on.

He explained: “I just felt I needed somebody to run at George Friend and cause him problems and it was great to see JJ on the pitch. I felt all the subs played a part.

“I thought ‘I’m going to go for the win’, getting Atdhe and JJ on; obviously Jeremy was forced on me because of Mattock’s thigh injury.”

JJ, whose dismissal at Millwall was his second red card of the season, will not be the only one trying to put some turbulent months behind him.

Yeovil centre half Byron Webster was sent off at Hillsborough as well as getting his marching orders, harshly, in last week’s extraordinary 1-1 draw with Reading.

He struck Atdhe Nuhiu in a touchline tussle in September and received a three-match ban for violent conduct but no sympathy from his manager Gary Johnson. Yeovil still managed to draw 1-1; the Owls goal came from Nuhiu.

Johnson initially felt that Webster’s red card at Reading was justified but closer analysis showed that there was no contact with the Royals’ Royston Drenthe, and an appeal to the FA succeeded.

So Webster can play on Saturday instead of serving a one-match ban for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

His presence is a boost for a team who will be without the other two players who were sent off at the Madejski Stadium, midfield player Joe Ralls - who scored at Hillsborough - and striker Kieffer Moore.

Meanwhile, the Owls have sold more than 1,000 season tickets in the first week of “early-bird” discounted prices for next season.

The figure is up on last year’s figure for the corresponding period.

Sales have been boosted by the introduction of a new category, called young adult, which allows a concession to fans aged between 17 and 20.