Sheffield Wednesday: Hillsborough hero Barry Bannan poised to reach Owls landmark

Barry Bannan

Barry Bannan

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MIdfield playmaker Barry Bannan is in line to make his 50th Owls appearance in their Hillsborough showdown with Nottingham Forest this weekend.

Bannan has been one of Wednesday’s standout performers since arriving from Premier League side Crystal Palace just over a year ago.

He quickly established himself as a mainstay in Carlos Carvalhal’s strongest XI and a popular figure on the terraces. The 26-year-old played an integral part in the Owls securing their highest-placed finish in 16 years, clocking up 41 appearances.

Bannan delivered a string of classy performances on the left flank and in his favoured central midfield role as Wednesday reached the Play-Off Final at Wembley. He found the back of the net on three occasions and his outstanding form prompted him to be named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year.

“Since day one, the Sheffield Wednesday fans have been brilliant with me,” admitted Bannan, who registered in their win over Bristol City last week.

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“The more I have played, the more the fans have taken to me. I had lots of family and friends at Wembley last season who had never been to any of our games before.

“One of my brother’s mates was a Hull fan and he was there. He phoned my brother up after the game saying: ‘All I heard was your little brother’s name being sung today.’

“They never stopped singing my name. It’s a huge morale boost.

“The style the manager plays is perfect. We play a lot of possession football. It suits me down to a tee.

“My confidence is high and I’m playing every week. I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s probably the happiest I’ve been in football.”

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Bannan’s superb displays for his club also culminated in him earning a Scotland recall. He returned to the international arena last March, coming on as a second half substitute in their friendly success over Czech Republic.

He made his first Scots start since March 2014 in their recent World Cup qualifying win over Malta.

“Everybody performed well and the gaffer was happy with my performance which was good,” he said. “I think I did well and did myself no harm. I was pleased to play. I had not started in a while but you are not going to play if you are not playing at club level.

“Over the last few years, I’ve not played at club level. It is only since I have come to Wednesday that I have played week in week out.

“It was good to get a start in a big qualifying game and a big confidence boost for me.

“Hopefully I did enough to keep my place but there are a lot of good players in the same position as me who will be trying to get the shirt. It is up to me to keep doing well for my club.”

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