Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: The two positions the Owls must bolster before the transfer window closes
The end is in sight.
Chairman, managers, agents and journalists will breathe a hugh sigh of relief when the transfer market closes on Tuesday night.
Targets have been identified. Phone calls have gone in. A series of conversations have taken place between various parties.
Some transfers have gone through. Some have failed to materialise.
With world football’s governing body FIFA having scrapped the emergency loan window last year, it is now or never to get deals signed off. The next opportunity clubs will get to revamp their squads won’t be until the summer.
It is likely to be a hectic few days, but it has been a productive market so far for the Owls. Three players have arrived, three have departed S6 (two on a temporary basis) and two first-team regulars have signed contract extensions. And the fun is not over yet.
Despite having an array of forward options, the Owls continue to be linked with every striker under the sun. If it is not Jordan Rhodes, it is Ross McCormack. If it is not McCormack, it is Matt Taylor.
Don’t get me wrong. All of the above forwards have proven pedigrees and Wednesday have lacked a cutting edge all season so it is an easy fit.
But I would argue that it is not the forward line where the Owls need further reinforcements. It is elsewhere where there are glaring deficiencies.
Centre-back is not an area where Wednesday are well stocked. Despite their impressive defensive record, is a position the Owls should have strengthened over the summer. A quality defender should have been brought in to challenge Tom Lees and Glenn Loovens for a starting spot.
Sam Hutchinson, who is suspended for their next two fixtures, performed admirably in defence at the start of the season but his presence was missed in the midfield engine room. In fairness to Carvalhal, he recognised the Owls would be better off with Hutchinson in the centre and moved him back there in November.
Hutchinson’s positional switch means Wednesday have only three recognised centre-halves in Lees, Loovens and Vincent Sasso. What happens if Lees, the linchpin of their back four, suffers a serious injury again? Will Loovens, an influential figure in this Owls team, stay fit for the rest of the campaign? Can Wednesday rely on Sasso to do a job if required?
Carvalhal argues Jose Semedo and Daniel Pudil are more than capable of playing at centre-back but that is far from ideal.
It is at the back and in midfield where the Owls look light.
Wednesday aren’t creating enough chances for their forwards to thrive. The service into Fernando Forestieri, Sam Winnall and Gary Hooper etc must improve. With Kieran Lee a long-term absentee, there is no reliable goal threat in the middle of the park.