As talk of a points deduction intensifies and showing the sort of form unlikely to keep them alive in a fight for survival, transfers may not be at the forefront of Sheffield Wednesday’s present plans.
But with a player exodus looming and the Coronavirus pandemic set to shorten Wednesday’s summer, irrespective of the division to which they are heading next season, recruitment is something the Owls would be wise to address nonetheless.
Having already lost Steven Fletcher, Fernando Forestieri and Sam Winnall at the end of last month, and with Connor Wickham, Alessio Da Cruz, Josh Windass and Atdhe Nuhiu only on the books until the end of term, for now, Wednesday’s attacking department looks set for the biggest decimation.
As it stands, the Owls will enter the break with Jordan Rhodes as their only recognised centre-forward – an issue given his 13 goals in 74 games since an £8 million transfer three years ago.
But whether it’s Championship or League One level for which Sheffield Wednesday must prepare, there’s at least one third-tier striker who could be worth pursuing.
And, if winter reports are accurate, then Bristol Rovers’ Jonson Clarke-Harris should already be on Wednesday’s radar.
The 25-year-old has scored 27 goals in 52 games for the Gas and was valued by one rival club owner, Peterborough United’s Darragh MacAnthony – a man who’s become adept at selling in-form strikers to higher-division clubs – in excess of £2 million at the time the Owls were linked.
But according to East Anglian Daily Times, which reported interest in Clarke-Harris from Ipswich Town on Thursday, only a ‘significant six-figure fee’ – one of at least £700,000 – would now be required to prise away a player who recently entered the final year of his contract, although it adds that there is also a Championship suitor in the form of Charlton Athletic.
Speaking earlier this season, the then-Rovers boss – and former Sheffield Wednesday captain – Graham Coughlan told Bristol Live: “Now, if I’m a manager at a higher level, yes I’d be on the phone looking for Jonson Clarke-Harris because I know what he can do and what he’s all about”.
Their existing problems are perhaps evidence of that.
Clarke-Harris’s career may have had nomadic beginnings, comprising permanent spells at Coventry (twice), Peterborough, Oldham and Rotherham, but it is finally on an upward trajectory – and to how many of Wednesday’s Chansiri-era recruits does that description apply? Sadly, all too few.