The stats that show that – despite a downturn in form – Barry Bannan is still Sheffield Wednesday's key man in midfield

Eyebrows were raised at the decision to leave Barry Bannan out of Sheffield Wednesday’s starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with fellow strugglers Reading.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 5:54 pm

The change was one of four made by Owls boss Garry Monk as he shuffled his pack in an attempt to breathe new life into a horror run that has seen them slip from play-off contention.

Joey Pelupessy and Kieran Lee were the men entrusted to hold the middle of midfield, with Bannan replacing the Dutchman at half-time after an insipid team performance in the first 45 minutes. The Owls went on to lose the match 3-0.

Bannan’s initial exclusion raised questions over his importance to the team – unfathomable even a few weeks ago – with question marks raised over his influence on recent matches.

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This is despite the fact that, with 71, he has created more chances this season than any Championship player other than Reading’s John Swift (74).

Other statistics suggest his form, admittedly in a struggling side, have been below standards set in his first four seasons with the Owls.

The Scot has been successful in 68.24 per cent of his actions on the field this season, compared with 81.72 per cent, his Wednesday career-high set in the last campaign.

He remains the Wednesday midfield’s most prolific passer of the ball and looms largest on their season influence map, averaging 44.18 passes per match, with an 81.6 per cent success rate.

But that too is down on last season, when he released 55.36 passes per match at a success rate of 84.2 per cent. He was most influential in the 2017/18 season, averaging 59.93 passes per 90, finding a Wednesday shirt 85.9 per cent of the time.

But the numbers suggest he comes out favourably against his rivals for a midfield berth this season. Joey Pelupessy is successful in 59.8 per cent of actions, with Kieran Lee successful in 56 per cent. Massimo Luongo offers a success rate of 60.1 per cent with Sam Hutchinson closest behind Bannan’s effort with 67.4 per cent.

The Scot is expected to reclaim his place in the side for Saturday’s trip to Birmingham City.