As pre-Christmas gifts go, Barry Bannan confirming he is on the brink of signing a contract extension is as good as it gets for the Owls.
Bannan is a bubbly, infectious character and has been one of Wednesday’s standout performers. I doubt there haven’t been many better free transfers than Bannan this season.
He is a super little footballer and a great technician. (Although Wednesdayites should not be putting him in the same class as Chris Waddle just yet!)
It is hardly a surprise that Bannan has rediscovered his best form. He is now at a club where he feels loved, wanted and knows he is going to play week in, week out.
When he burst on the scene at Aston Villa seven years ago, I remember thinking even then that Bannan looked destined to blossom at the highest level for many years to come.
For one reason or another, Bannan’s development stalled and he was farmed out on loan to Derby County, Blackpool, Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers.
There was a period where he had stability at Crystal Palace before he slipped down in the pecking order at Selhurst Park. He faced an uncertain future.
But Wednesday threw Bannan a lifeline and to Carlos Carvalhal’s credit, he has found a role to bring the best out of the Scotland international. He has become an indispensable part of the Owls’ midfield unit and is even starting to add goals to his armoury!
As an attacking unit, Wednesday look far more potent when Bannan is in the side. He is capable of pulling the strings in the centre, giving them drive, energy and creativity. He is just the sort of player Carvalhal wants to build his team around.
Last month, Bannan was sidelined for a number of weeks due to a knee problem. It was quite striking how much the Owls missed his dynamic runs from deep and fine passing range.
It is a huge plus for Wednesday that Bannan has agreed to join Keiren Westwood and Tom Lees in committing his long-term future to the club. That is a strong British core and the spine of the Owls’ team. They know you have to sometimes roll up your sleeves up to grind out results in the Championship.
How Wednesday could do with another big performance from Bannan on Sunday as they look to halt their poor sequence of results.