Owls squad assessment: Defence
Wednesday short on numbers at the back
Despite some shaky displays during the 2012/13 season Wednesday can be reasonably pleased with a defence record of 61 goals conceded in the 46 league games – half of the teams in the Championship conceded more than that.
At right-back Lewis Buxton was a stand out performer, deservedly winning the Player of the Year award. The former Stoke defender is out of contract this summer but has been offered a new deal by the Owls who are very keen to retain his services.
Keiran Lee, signed last summer from Oldham is seen as the understudy to Buxton. Lee played in half of Wednesday's league games last season and although most of his appearances were as a midfielder, right-back is the position in which he made his name having won consecutive player of the year awards at Oldham.
For the majority of the season Miguel Llera and Anthony Gardner have been the central defensive partnership. At times Llera has struggled to make the step up having previously been a firm favourite in League One but his passion and commitment can never be doubted. As with Buxton, Llera is out of contract this summer but has been offered a new deal. The Owls may need to bring in someone in this position if the are to progress but Llera would still be a useful squad member.
Gardner was signed in the summer and like goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, doubts were raised concerning his injury record. The ex-Spurs defender played 38 times last season and finished joint 3rd in the player of the season poll.
Martin Taylor is the club captain currently playing 2nd fiddle to Gardner and Llera at centre-half. Taylor signed from Watford at the end of the 2012 summer transfer window but struggled in his first few games for the club and was unable to keep his place in the starting 11. As with Llera he may make a useful squad member but at 33 he is unlikely to be a long term first choice.
Although the likes of Buxton and Reda Johnson can fill in at centre-back, Wednesday only have 3 experienced central defenders on their books. This may well be a position in which the club could look to strengthen during the summer.
At left-back is Owls fans cult hero Reda Johnson. Reda began his career at the Owls at centre-back and many of his displays were unconvincing to say the least. He was played at full-back under Gary Megson and over the past two seasons he has become a real favourite with the Hillsborough faithful. He has an excellent attitude and was rarely on the losing side when he played last season. His fitness has been a problem however as he missed almost two thirds of the season due to a troublesome foot injury.
To cover in Reda's absence the Owls singed Leeds defender Danny Pugh on loan. His versatility and dead ball ability proved to be a real asset but it is thought that his parent club may wish to hold onto him so a return to Hillsborough next season may be unlikely.
Wednesday also have Joe Mattock to call upon. Mattock has plenty of experience at this level but struggled at times when called upon last season. He is capable of playing at left or right back but did look more assured on the left side.
Due to the lack of numbers and the injury problems that some of the Owls defenders have suffered from this is certainly an area in which we could see some new faces arrive during the summer.
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