Sheffield Wednesday: Top Owls duo merit top-flight interest

Owls skipper Glenn Loovens and Liam Palmer

Owls skipper Glenn Loovens and Liam Palmer

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Sheffield Wednesday captain Glenn Loovens admits he is not shocked to see teammates Keiren Westwood and Tom Lees linked with Premier League clubs.

Goalkeeper Westwood is reportedly attracting the interest of Liverpool while Sunderland, Hull City and Burnley are rumoured to be monitoring Lees. Along with Loovens, the duo have played major roles in the team recording 12 Championship clean sheets this season.

Speaking ahead of today’s Hillsborough showdown with Bolton Wanderers, Loovens said: “It is no surprise they are getting attention. If you have got one of the best defensive records in the league, you are always going to get clubs that look at you. It shows we are on the right track as a group.

“Of course, we hope we can stay together and progress as a group. In football, you never know. If you get the right offer for somebody, you have to think about it as a club.”

There are no factions in Wednesday’s dressing room, insists Loovens.

“We have a very good dressing room and you need that to perform on the pitch,” he stressed. “We have great players who have gelled together. We go the extra mile for each other because we are behind one another and that has shown in the recent games we have played.

“I have been in a dressing rooms where it is less of a team and sometimes that has shown on the pitch.”

Experienced defender Loovens, who is one yellow card away from triggering an automatic two-match suspension, has praised head coach Stuart Gray’s managerial style.

“He lets you make your own decisions off the pitch,” he said. “There’s a good mix overall with the staff and the players.

“As a manager now, you need to have a bit of everything and I think he has been terrific with the lads and is the right man for the job. All the boys really like him and I hope he stays here for a long time.”

Wednesday entertain Bolton today seeking a fourth straight league victory to boost their play-off aspirations. Gray’s men lie just three places and four points shy of the top six.

Loovens said: “Every game is a big. We are on a good run. We need to take it game by game and not look too far ahead. We have to focus on Bolton and make sure we stay in the mix.

“We are so close to them (play-offs) and must keep getting three points to get amongst the play-off spots. If we continue the we have been playing lately, hopefully we will be there in the end.”

It looked unlikely Wednesday would be competing in the upper echelons of the division after falling to a heavy 4-0 defeat at Fulham the week before Christmas. Loovens believes that result in the capital was a “wake up call” for the team.

“We knew we needed to perform better as a team,” he said. “We have shown a lot of character to bounce back in the way we have done.

“It shows that we have a good dressing room. There will be lows in the season but it’s how you react to them and we have done terrific since that game.”

Several senior players, including Loovens, aired their disappointment after the Craven Cottage debacle.

“It was not only me,” he said. “I think everyone realised something needed to said.

“Everyone had their say and we moved on. Sometimes you need a bit of a wake up call for everyone to get back in the same direction and I think that’s what happened.”

It promises to be a big couple of months for Loovens, who is out of contract in the summer. He has indicated he would like to prolong his Hillsborough stay.

“Every club I have been at, I have been there for a long time,” he said. “I am quite relaxed about my contract situation. They know what I am capable of and know the club inside out. Hopefully we will sit down soon and I can be part of what happens here.”

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