Sheffield Wednesday: Six new faces needed to make Owls contenders

Jose Semedo
Jose Semedo
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To continue raising standards at Hillsborough, head coach Stuart Gray will be looking for quality over quantity this summer.

But the Owls boss knows he needs to increase the options at his disposal to mount a promotion challenge.

Citys Bradley Johnson held up by Owls Marnick Vermijl

Citys Bradley Johnson held up by Owls Marnick Vermijl

The Championship club began their summer clear-out last week, releasing 11 players, including Joe Mattock and Lewis Buxton.

New deals have been offered to Chris Kirkland, Glenn Loovens, Kieran Lee, Jose Semedo and Chris Maguire. Should they all pen contracts and agree to extend their Wednesday stays, Gray will have two senior goalkeepers and 15 outfield players to choose from.

Speaking last month, Gray said: “Players will come and go and the most important thing is we will build a competitive squad for next season.”

For Wednesday to improve on their 13th-placed finish, Gray must capture a minimum of half a dozen players.

Two strong areas are the goalkeeping and right-back departments, with Kirkland a capable deputy for Owls player of the season Keiren Westwood while Liam Palmer will battle it out with Marnick Vermijl for the right-back slot.

It remains to be seen whether Gray will decide to recruit a new left-back. He has allowed Mattock and Rafa Floro to leave, but Claude Dielna and Jeremy Helan are no strangers to that role. Gray has also employed Dielna at centre-back and Helan on the left flank.

Centre-half is an area where Wednesday are short of cover, having freed Kamil Zayatte. If Loovens decides to move on, Gray will probably need to buy two new centre-backs to keep Tom Lees on his toes.

There will be strength in depth in the middle of the park if Lee and Semedo agree new deals. Wednesday already boast Filipe Melo and Hutchinson and Gray hopes to bring Lewis McGugan back to Hillsborough.

More width and creativity is needed on the flanks to give the Owls extra penetration in the final third.

Beefing up his strikeforce is another one of Gray’s top summer objectives, although they have four forwards in their ranks in Atdhe Nuhiu, Caolan Lavery, Stevie May and Sergiu Bus.

“We have fallen down on goals,” said Gray. “If you keep them out at one end, you’ve got to make sure you stick them in at the other.”

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