SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Jones banks on Gardner quality

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DAVE Jones believes that Anthony Gardner can be a key influence as the Owls bid to improve their defending.

The former England centre-half has already been an asset since his return from injury.

“I think Anthony is coming back to his best; hopefully he will continue that,” said Jones.

“As a team, we’re not that far from getting a good result. I still think that we’ve got punished for every mistake we’ve made. That’s this division for you - it’s unforgiving. Certainly our last three performances, against Wolves, Burnley and Hull, deserved more.”

Gardner has shown his ability and experience in his four games since his comeback from a hamstring strain suffered on the league season’s opening day.

The 32-year-old former England, Spurs, Hull and Crystal Palace star has also been made captain after his centre-back partner, Martin Taylor, was left out of the side for last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Hull.

Gardner has felt that fans have yet to see the best of him, after his summer move from Palace, saying: “There are things I can do better, things where I can probably help players around me. Even with my experience, it can take time to get to know your environment and the players.”

Milan Mandaric’s backing of Jones has been followed by Rotherham boss Steve Evans saying that the Owls chairman will not get a better manager.

“Dave Jones won them promotion and works 24 hours a day for his club,” said Evans. “He will need a little time to blend in his new signings. It does take time, but in the end it works; those that hire and fire do fail.”

Evans completes his six-match stadium ban today when Rotherham play Paul Sturrock’s Southend. He was suspended for abusive language towards a female steward when he was Crawley manager.

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