The recently sacked Aston Villa boss appears to be bound for Sheffield Wednesday.
Steve Bruce is expected to be named the new manager of Sheffield Wednesday, three months after leaving Aston Villa.
He would arrive at a difficult time for the Owls, whose need to comply with the English Football League’s profit and sustainability rules is likely to leave little change to the man who succeeds Jos Luhukay at Hillsborough.
Loans and frees are perhaps the best he could hope for – and even they might depend on prior player sales.
But which former players could Bruce target that might fit the bill? HITC takes a look…
James Bree (Aston Villa)
Although not an area in urgent need of attention, Wednesday’s right-back is one that could be easily improved. Liam Palmer and Ashley Baker have shared responsibility since Jack Hunt’s summer sale, but neither have properly convinced, while the former is out of contract in June. Bree was brought to Villa by Bruce two years ago, after progressing through the ranks of the Owls’ neighbours, Barnsley. And while the Villans’ desperation to go up meant the prospective Hillsborough boss often favoured Alan Hutton or Ahmed Elmohamady in the 21-year-old’s position, there would be less pressure at Sheffield Wednesday, where more patience could be afforded. A loan move may suit all parties.
Callum O’Hare (Aston Villa)
Another player Bruce would have perhaps liked to have used more often at Villa, but couldn’t. O’Hare, who provided his one and only Villans assist in last year’s defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, is still to get look-in under the 57-year-old’s successor, Dean Smith. The attacking midfielder, a skilful operator not unlike Wednesday’s Fernando Forestieri who can also play out wide, may therefore seek a temporary move in January. And the Owls could be a decent fit for the 20-year-old.
Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace)
Granted, Wednesday aren’t short of centre-forwards, but that could soon change if Bruce is forced to wheel and deal next month. If one or two are moved on, then Wickham’s name may be high on the list of his former manager – and the man who signed him – at Sunderland. Palace’s desperation to get the injury-plagued striker back to fitness could spell a bargain for someone seeking loan reinforcements, and where better than Hillsborough – where he remains a hero after two previous spells – to spend his recovery? The £9 million man’s girlfriend, and mother of his child, is also a big Owls fan.