‘Why not?’ – Sheffield Wednesday defender has lofty ambitions for Championship return
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The experienced centre back returned from injury to play a big role for the Owls in the latter part of the season, regaining his spot in the heart of defence and putting in an especially strong performance at Wembley in the play-off final win over Barnsley.
Now, with a number of players on the move as their contracts expire, he says that he’s happy that he was part of such an ‘unbelievable’ group of players – even though things will look different by the time he’s back in for preseason next month.
Speaking to Yorkshire Live at last week’s civic reception, ‘Icky’ said, "It's part and parcel of football. It's just life and that's why it's so important we all enjoy it because we've all earned it as a squad. Even the lads who haven't played as much, we need to enjoy these moments. Football players come and go, so these moments need to be relished.
"It's an unbelievable group. I was obviously injured for a large part but being around the changing room when there's been ups and downs, the manager has always made us believe.”
And the former Rotherham United man is looking to Sunderland for inspiration as they plan for their first season back in the Championship, suggesting that they can try and emulate them by going for a second consecutive top six finish after promotion last month.
Next year’s second tier is full of big-name clubs with recent Premier League history, and it’s sure to be a toughly fought campaign as so many of them look to try and book their spot back in the promised land once again – Ihiekwe is hoping he and his Owls’ teammates can be one of them.
"The sky's the limit," he went on to tell YL. "Let's take this momentum and go again. We've obviously seen what Sunderland did. They're a big club like ourselves and have gone up and ended up in the play-offs.
"The Championship is going to be strong again next season but why not?"