Date: 13th May 2010 at 11:44am
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So much for progression, writes Will van de Noort.

Promised a finish in the top six, the only pushing for the play-offs that Sheffield Wednesday will be doing is in the third tier of English football.

It’s difficult to know what to expect; last time the Owls were relegated to this level they finished just three points from the drop zone.

They approached League One with naivety, saw it as a novelty. After all, they were Sheffield Wednesday, one of the most famous teams in the land. It was only a few years since their fall from the place many believed to be their rightful place – the top flight of English football.

The same attitude almost certainly won’t be in place as the Owls take on League One next season.

It’s a long ten years since Wednesday’s relegation from the Premier League, and the long-suffering fans have had very little to cheer about, with the exception of a memorable play-off final victory in the very league that they will be in come August.

But what can Wednesday fans expect this time around?

One thing is for sure, there are definitely positives for Wednesday to observe. Although Southampton will remain – and will undoubtedly be one of the favourites to secure promotion – Norwich and Leeds have both secured automatic promotion.

Another positive for the Owls to look at is that the teams that came down with them are not the strongest – both Peterborough and Plymouth will be aiming for the play offs but are unlikely to achieve much more than that.

Not to mention the fact that Wednesday have already proven that they can beat those two teams this season, taking ten points from a possible twelve off their relegation counterparts.

Trips to Huish Park and the Fitness First Stadium may not sound attractive, but Wednesday will be strong favourites in these encounters – an experience that the Owls are not used to.

Just as Norwich and Leicester did, Wednesday could use League One as a springboard, to improve their squad, start winning games and confidently take on the third tier.

And of course, with Leicester competing in the play-offs this season, it would suggest that the ‘one step back, two steps forward’ strategy may well have long-term benefits too.

Of course there will be difficulties for Wednesday to overcome – for instance, they will be seen as the ‘cup final game’ for most of the other 23 teams – but if the Owls can use their stature to attract some decent out-of-contract players in the summer, and keep some of their stars, it really could be our season.

If Marcus Tudgay is capable of 14 Championship goals, and is happy to stay, he could well set this league alight, while the Owls know that they have a safe pair of hands in Lee Grant, should he choose to pledge his future at Hillsborough.

It will not be easy, but I have full faith in Alan Irvine, the squad and whoever he chooses to sign to turn this great ship around, and put it back on course to where it belongs.