Date: 9th May 2008 at 10:51am
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With the season now at a close, Vital Sheffield Wednesday contributor Ashley Ball takes a look at how the Owls’ squad could shape up next season, and how at S6, nothing is for certain…

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With the Owls securing Championship safety for another season with a resounding 4-1 win over Norwich, Owls fans can look forward to a summer full of rumours and uncertainty.

First of all, the takeover can now be hurried along to give whoever is in charge time to bring in new players. Geoff Sheard looks to be one step ahead of rivals, but with Sheffield Wednesday nothing is for certain.

The Owls will want any deal done with enough time in pre-season for us to be not lagging behind rivals in the scrap that emerges for players.

Current players also have their futures to be sorted out too.

The likes of Kenny Lunt, Rob Burch, Ronnie Wallwork, Burton O’Brien, Peter Gilbert and Sean McAllister all face an uncertain few weeks, as do the first year pro’s O’Donnell, Kay, McMenamin, McClements, Boden and Bradley, all these contracts are up in the summer, but will it be Brian Laws’ decision to make?

There is also the future of the second year scholars to be decided, have the likes of Todd Wood and Sam Liversidge done enough to achieve professional status?

As for players coming in, the Goalkeeper position now seems fairly secure with Lee ‘He’s not so bad after all’ Grant making himself a solid number 1.

But with the other two ‘keepers contracts up in the summer, it remains to be seen whether Wednesday will need to strengthen in this area.

The defence is looking fairly solid, but with Beevers impressing immensely might the Owls cash in on him?

With the returning Simek and the ever maturing Tommy Spurr giving us solid full backs, alongside custodian Richard Wood, we have a solid looking back four, but a distinct lack of cover, especially with the outgoing Lee Bullen. This leaves us with only Hinds and Gilbert as senior defenders. The Owls have been linked with Peterborough defender Claude Gnapka, but apparently face stiff competition from SPL club Aberdeen.

The midfield area is certainly the one in most doubt, with Bolder and Kavanagh heading back to QPR and Sunderland respectively and with O’Brien, Wallwork and Lunt all out of contract (and out of favour) it leaves us with just the one central midfielder (Sean McAllister, who is also out of contract!) It is uncertain whether or not any of these six players will again be wearing an Owls shirt and we may see a real overhaul in this area.

As for wingers, we own four, the enigma that is Jermaine Johnson, the unknown in Ettiene Esajas, the enigma part two in Wade Small and the kid that is Rocky Lekaj.

Franck Songo’o has come in on loan and done a good job, he also refused to rule out a full time move to the Owls, so he along with Bolder may be two familiar faces been paraded around Hillsborough come August. The strengthening of the left side needs to be looked at.

Now the strike force, well, we do seem to be blessed with a lot here, but more in numbers than in talent. Marcus Tudgay and Akpo Sodje could be considered as our main two, although Deon Burton has been productive in the last few weeks. Francis Jeffers is useful when we see him that is and old laughing stock Leon Clarke has bagged two in two to maybe finally make himself likable to Owls fans. Slusarski and Sahar will return back to their parent clubs, but one or two may return should the manager see fit.

Hopefully, Laws (should he be in charge) will have some money to spend if a takeover does materialise and this will lead us to not signing free transfers (Pay peanuts…you get monkeys). However, with money, Laws has so far signed Jeffers and Clarke (I rest my case?).

The foreign market has only been entered once by Laws and this short sightedness could well be his undoing. Will he continue to buy British…when all around look abroad?

Finally, a thought for the upcoming scholars, who have earned themselves a nice little reputation already…branded as the most talented in years. Is there another Beevers in their ranks…maybe in a different position? Will the Owls be blooding the youngsters again?

The only thing for sure at S6 is that nothing is for sure.

Ashley Ball.