Teale and Miller in challenge for quick returns

Midfield decision: Tommy Miller is making Gary Megson think about changing his starting line-up
Midfield decision: Tommy Miller is making Gary Megson think about changing his starting line-up
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TOMMY Miller and Gary Teale are giving Gary Megson food for thought as he ponders his line-up to face Bristol Rovers tomorrow.

He moved them to the bench for the game against Swindon on Monday principally because he felt previous experience told him they could be heavy-legged if they played a second match in the space of three days.

The Owls won comfortably, 3-1, but Megson has shown that he is not afraid to change a winning side.

Miller’s contract is no longer a potential obstacle to his being in the starting line-up: he cannot now reach the mark of 30 League starts that would trigger what Megson has described as “a contract offer of wages we can’t afford.”

The club are seeking a comprise deal with the midfield player. The manager made him captain - a job done by James O’Connor on Monday - and clearly rates him.

Megson has also praised O’Connor, and he felt that Darren Potter, Miller’s replacement against Swindon, “did ok” as well as scoring.

Teale, too, has received a good word from the boss: “Invariably he will be our hardest working player, in terms of the number of metres he covers in 90 minutes. A similar thing applies to Tommy Miller. They will be involved in some capacity on Saturday.”

He was pleased that five changes for Monday’s game did not adversely affect the result or performance: “It’s good when you’ve got people you can put into the team and it doesn’t affect results.” Maybe the same philosophy will apply tomorrow.

Megson’s week has also involved waiting for bulletins on Danny Batth (illness), who missed the Swindon match, and Gary Madine (knee), who went off in the second half.

He will also assess Jermaine Johnson once again. The winger was dropped to the bench at Walsall because Megson was dissatisfied with his previous away form. But he returned to the team three days later.

Megson could also consider a change from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1; he switched to the latter in the second half on Monday after Madine was injured. This system succeeded earlier in his reign and may again be an option away from home, especially if one of the main strikers is injured.

Monday’s switch was made to combat the way Swindon were filling midfield and earning possession.

So Megson chose not to use Paul Heffernan or Clinton Morrison, who were subs.

Megson thought that Reda Johnson “did really well” in Batth’s role - so this centre half spot represents another poser, with Batth having been in top form in the home 2-0 win against Hartlepool and the 1-1 draw at Walsall.

The Owls boss said: “At Bristol Rovers, it’s going to be a similar game to the one at Walsall, I’m sure. They’ll know that have to get a result. The thing that disappointed me a bit at Walsall was that we got pinned back in our defensive third for the first 15 minutes.

“After that, we bossed the game, but we need to do that for 90 minutes, not just 75.”


The Teams

PIRATES (possible): Logan; Senda, Anthony, Clough, Sawyer; Williams, Lyons, Kalala, Brown; Kuffour, Hoskins, (4-4-2).

OWLS (possible): Weaver; Otsemobor, Batth or R Johnson, R Jones, Buxton; Sedgwick or J Johnson, Miller, O’Connor, Teale; Mellor, C Morrison or Madine. (4-4-2).

The Referee

dave foster (Newcastle): Handled the Owls’ 3-2 FA Cup win against Northampton in November. Booked seven players in Notts County’s 1-1 draw with Brentford on Monday.