Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood expects the Championship to be just as tough again next season.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Premier League-bound Watford ensured Sheffield Wednesday capped off the 2014/15 season on a positive note.
Stuart Gray’s men finished in 13th position and have wasted no time in beginning their summer clear-out, releasing 11 players on Tuesday as chairman Dejphon Chansiri looks to realise his ambition of Premier League football by 2017.
Chansiri has vowed to provide the funds to turn Wednesday into serious promotion contenders. The Thai businessman, who completed his £37.5m takeover of Wednesday in March, has already invested £1m on a brand new pitch at Hillsborough and promised to splash the cash on a giant new scoreboard.
But Westwood, the Owls’ player of the season, told The Star: “It will be a tough division next year.
“The three teams who come down will have the parachute payments. Bristol City look a strong outfit. They have got a bit of backing money wise.
“MK Dons are a really good side and could be joined by Preston, Swindon, Sheffield United or Chesterfield, who have had a fantastic season, so it’s going to be a very competitive league.”
Westwood, formerly of Carlisle United, Coventry City and Sunderland, was a pivotal figure in Wednesday equalling a league record of 17 clean sheets in a season. His impressive form earned him national recognition, with the 30-year-old included in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Championship Team of the Year.
Speaking in Match Magazine after being named the Football League’s best shot-stopper this term, Westwood said: “It is not all about personal awards, but it is always nice to get recognised.”
Republic of Ireland international Westwood, ruled out of the trip to Vicarage Road due to a calf problem, added: “I am a big team player and my team has done great this season.”