Sheffield Wednesday: Rotherham United smash and grab continues healing effort on Owls' broken Achilles heel
The recruitment effort at Sheffield Wednesday stepped up a few notches this week with the addition of Will Vaulks, Michael Smith and Michael Ihiekwe.
The three additions arrive in good time ahead of the Owls’ first pre-season matches and well ahead of their warm weather training camp in Portugal next month.
And though there is much more transfer activity to come, patterns are emerging in terms of the profiles and attributes of the players Darren Moore has been able to bring in – with early signs suggesting strides are being taken to solve a major problem last time out.
Some 38 per cent of the goals Wednesday conceded in the 2022/23 season were down to their inability to defend set pieces – the highest percentage in the division.
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In terms of goals conceded from set pieces, only Cheltenham (21 – finished in 15th), Morecambe (23 in 19th) and Doncaster (26 in 24th and bottom) tallied worse than the fourth-placed Owls.
In Ben Heneghan Wednesday signed a six-foot-two centre-half who boasted some of the best defensive statistics in the division, in Ihiekwe a six-foot defender who made it into the League One team of the year last season in no small part for his ability to head the ball and organise those around him.
Then there’s Smith, six-foot-three and one of the more feared aerial threats in the Football League. While he won’t feature at the back in normal play, his addition adds a clear ability to defend set pieces.
With defending set pieces a weakness, Moore explained on a handful of occasions last season that he had had to alter selection in order to get taller, more aerially adept players on the pitch.
The Owls boss has spoken a number of times about the need for physicality in his squad. Saido Berahino was left out for several weeks while he hit the gym in search of increased strength and players such as Fisayo Dele-Bashiru and George Byers also spoke about programmes to improve their physical threat.
On paper, Wednesday should already be better equipped to deal with balls into the box this season.
The recruitment drive goes on.