Wing ace one of the best I’ve seen in League One

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THERE I was, playing in a match on the university ground in Warminster Road, Norton, and thinking: “What am I doing here?”

I felt shattered. Our first child had only just been born and sleepless nights were no preparation for running around for 90 minutes.

That was a long time ago. But this and other memories were brought back by a question raised in the aftermath of the Owls game against Charlton.

Gary Megson and Milan Mandric both suggested than Ben Marshall’s game may have been affected by something that had been happening off the field - in his case the saga and uncertainty over his future.

Another manager once told me: “You might have a player who just doesn’t feel right, physically or mentally, for some reason; he might just feel a bit under the weather, or have something on his mind, or had a row with the wife, or whatever; and he might not be the only one in your team like that. It’s the sort of thing a manager has to cope with.”

Now Marshall is back at Stoke, it is hard to ask him what he thought about his performance against Charlton.

It was not his best, that’s for sure - but that judgement applies to several of his team-mates, and it does not make it any less important that Wednesday try to meet the tall order of signing him or someone of equal calibre.

He is one of the best players I have seen since the Owls dropped into League One. The trouble is, he has done too well. His stock has risen, his agent doubtless will be looking for that to be reflected in his next contract, other clubs have been alerted to his ability, he is back at Stoke, and his current deal there ends in the summer. That whole scenario is not a great one from a Wednesday perspective.

If the Owls did still manage to bring him back, what a coup that would be.

If it cannot be done, well thanks neverthless are due to the winger for the crowd-pleasing class he brought to the side, and the goals he created or scored.

Well done too to Megson for identifying him back in August as someone who would be a big asset.

Wednesday are not a one-man band but there has to be a worry that Marshall’s departure could adversely affect the promotion campaign.

Megson, in his Hillsborough reign, has proved that he is a judge of a player. Latest signing Mike Jones started brightly against Charlton then faded but he was thrown in at the deep end and can only benefit from a bit of settling-in time.

The fact that a Championship side, Barnsley, wanted him says much about his pedigree. There is still a distinct possibility that Wednesday could be up there with them next season.

If the Owls had been well beaten by Charlton then there might be something to worry about. But they weren’t.

The Addicks were nothing spectacular, just a compact, well-organised unit. They may take some stopping, though, and they have so many players that if they hit problems then they should be able to keep their team up to scratch. But Wednesday can still make that top two.