LOAN keeper Stephen Bywater will make a home debut tomorrow and so will striker David McGoldrick if he is fit as the Owls gather their strength for an attempted push up the table.
With forwards Chris O’Grady and Ryan Lowe knocking on the door, assistant manager Chris Evans has pointed to the positives of the club’s start to the season and to what the rest of the campaign may yet have in store.
Evans describes the Owls’ rebuilding as “a work in progress” but one that has already brought a highly promising league position despite false starts for major signings O’Grady and Lowe.
“There’s been a lot of good work done,” says Evans.
“We recognise we have to keep on improving; you do that in two ways, work on the training ground and personnel change.
“Slowly but surely we are adding to the squad. We’ve had good suppoort from the chair [owner Milan Mandaric] .
“The bringing in of Stephen Bywater and David McGoldrick allows you to make sure you’re consolidated.
“We still feel we have work to do. That must always be the case,
“If ever you feel satisfied, there’s a potential for going backwards. It’s a case of head down and grafting in that quest to get promoted.”
Evans pointed to the “good news” of the return to training of Lowe and O’Grady: “This obviously is significant. For me, the squad should have a minimum of four recognised strikers.
“It’s been frustrating for the manager that, having signed Chris O’Grady and Ryan Lowe, we have been deprived of their services through injury.
“But they have worked hard with the physio and the medical team; and the decision that has to
be made now is how quickly we can select them. Likewise, we have to take on board that Gary Madine and David McGoldrick scored on Saturday.
“They’re good [selection] problems; it’s great to have a quota; we haven’t had it before,”
Evans added: “I think we’ve made a decent start; we’re joint fifth on 16 points, yet we haven’t been able to call upon the goalscoring acquisitions that the manager has made.
“That said, we’re pleased we have managed to maintain our home form.
“We’re on the back of a win away from home, after a disappointment at Stevenage, and I don’t think it’s remiss of me to mention the two sides who were promoted last season.
“In the case of Southampton, we’re seven points ahead of where they were after nine games, we’ve scored nine more goals and have a better goal difference.
“In the case of Brighton, the only difference is we have won five games and they had won six. Brighton finished on 95 points, Southampton on 92, and Southampton are now top of the Championship.
“While we put everything into perspective, we know the areas where we have to improve; equally we should recognise there have been some positives.
“Hopefully we can add to that with the introduction of the new players who have come into the fold and those who are about to be made available for selection.
“We’re quietly pleased, desperately wanting to do even better.
“We now approach the Exeter game and hopefully can carry on the good work.”
Teams and refs
OWLS (possible): Bywater; Buxton, Batth, R Jones or R Johnson, Bennett; Palmer, Semedo, Lines, Marshall; McGoldrick, Madine (4-4-2).
EXETER (possible): Pidgeley; Tully, Duffy, Coles, Jones; Dunne, Noble; Whichelow, Bauza, Shephard; Nardiello (4-2-3-1).
Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire): An RAF sergeant who has been on the National List of referees since 2004. His first game this season was Sheffield United’s opening-day 2-0 win at Oldham.
One to watch
Daniel Nardiello: The ex-Barnsley striker is expected to return after a two-match ban and will want to get back in his manager’s good books after being criticised for getting himself sent off for protesting about a disallowed goal at Charlton in a 2--0 defeat a fortnight ago.
Wednesday and Exeter have met only nine times and, rather surprisingly in view of the two clubs’ backgrounds, the Grecians have the better record, with six wins against the Owls’ two. The teams have drawn once. Exeter have also won all of the last four games between the clubs, since 1979.