Sheffield Wednesday’s biggest challenge might not take place on the field - Joe Crann’s column

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Darren Moore’s squad at Sheffield Wednesday this season has got some serious depth to it.

The Owls have had a very impressive transfer window, strengthening in practically every position with new personnel and bringing in a whole host of players that – by admission – have turned down Championship clubs in order to join the project.

Looking at the side that they put out against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup this week, Moore made nine changes and it was still an XI that wouldn’t look out of place in any League One fixture.

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Wednesday’s midfield is as competitive as it has been in years, and there are genuine questions about how to fit the likes of Lee Gregory, Josh Windass, Michael Smith and now Mallik Wilks into the same attack.

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There will be lots of challenges over the course of the season for the Owls, but arguably the biggest one on Moore’s plate is how he’s going to keep with this much quality happy – because there are a lot of players in there that would be playing every single minute elsewhere that will almost definitely spend time sat on the bench at Hillsborough.

It's a factor that it feels the manager has prepared for – there seem to be a lot of good eggs in this Wednesday side – but his man-management is going to be crucial when a player is left out even though he feels he shouldn’t be.

The midfield is the perfect example of the difficult choices left with the boss… Picking just three from Barry Bannan, George Byers, Dennis Adeniran, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Will Vaulks and Tyreeq Bakinson is certainly not an easy task, and you best believe that every single one of them wants to be playing every week. How Moore manages those expectations will be fascinating.

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Sheffield Wednesday have some serious squad depth this season.Sheffield Wednesday have some serious squad depth this season.
Sheffield Wednesday have some serious squad depth this season.

He gave some insight into his thinking recently as he suggested that he didn’t want to run the risk of being affected by injuries as much as they were last time out, but the complexities of managing a side with this kind of quality is two-fold.

There’s the man-management internally, but there’s also the expectation externally. On paper, this Wednesday side has to be – at the very least - in the conversation for automatic promotion. Anything less than that will be seen as a failure.

That pressure is from the fans, it’s from the pundits, it’s from all of the other clubs too. Wednesday were always seen as a scalp, it’ll be even more so this time around.

Wednesday’s start this season has been commendable. If you’d offered most fans 10 points from the opening five games – especially considering the opposition – then I think most would have snatched your hands off. A two points per game average over the course of a season will have you in that automatic promotion conversation, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

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Moore has built a squad more than capable of challenging for the League One title, but his impressive recruitment has brought with it a set of welcome headaches that he’ll have to navigate.

Better to have too much than not enough, but getting a settled side with this amount of genuine quality is not a job that I envy.