Confidence should avert repeat slump by Owls

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SHEFFIELD Wednesday are not heading for another New Year collapse, according to defender Reda Johnson.

The Owls have dropped five points in the last two games after letting in costly late goals against both Huddersfield Town and Walsall.

To make matters worse, they have also been knocked out of the top two spots in the League One table by arch-rivals Sheffield United.

Speaking ahead of today’s trip to Preston North End, Johnson rejected suggestions that the club’s season is about to go off the rails again.

Only 12 months ago, the Owls slumped from second to 12th after a calamitous Christmas and New Year slump that ended in the sacking of manager Alan Irvine.

Benin international Johnson was one of five January signings whose arrival inadvertently destabilised the team.

Now a regular at left-back, he is one of the most consistent performers under current manager Gary Megson.

“There is no need to worry,” said Johnson. “There are still 24 games to go and we are in a good position.

“The difference between last season and this is that the players have greater confidence. Last year, I don’t think the players had the confidence they needed to play proper football.

“Confidence is there now and the players have good ability to do different things. It is different to last year.

“We have lost points in the last few minutes of the last two games but we have also won some games this season in the final minutes,” he reflected.

“Of course, we have to learn from our mistakes but we have only lost once in the last 10 games and that is good form.”

Manager Megson summed up his frustration over the last two results, saying: “We would be four points clear in second spot without injury time in the last two games. We have been punished for a lack of know-how and experience but sometimes it is too easy to look at one end of the pitch and bemoan the goals you have let in. In both games, we should have been out of sight so we need to start taking more of the chances we create.”

Goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell is sweating over his place today as Megson decides whether to gamble on third-choice Arron Jameson. The Owls are set to re-sign Derby County’s Stephen Bywater in the transfer window.

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