Sheffield Wednesday’s midweek friendly with neighbours Rotherham United attracted so many scouts, manager Dave Jones joked the Owls should have started charging for admission.
It was a light-hearted moment for the Owls boss yesterday as he faced the media ahead of tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby with high-flying Hull City.
While the Tigers have splashed out around £3.5m this week on Premier League pair, Sunderland’s David Meyler and Manchester United’s Robbie Brady, Jones knows he must sell to generate income for new arrivals at Hillsborough in this month’s January transfer window.
After failing to score in their last three games, Jones is desperate to land a striker, with Cardiff City’s Rob Earnshaw a possible target.
So Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors friendly with the Millers gave several first-team fringe players the chance to impress Jones – or put themselves in the shop window for a move out of Sheffield.
Winger Jermaine Johnson and Chris Maguire both netted twice and are likely to be in the match-day squad tomorrow.
Asked if it was a chance for scouts from rival clubs to assess possible transfer targets, Jones said: “Yes, that’s what normally happens.
“I am not hiding the fact, but they can come all the time. We should have charged, there was quite a lot of them.
“They can look at players, but at the end of the day it’s whether we want to move those players out to make way for people to come in.
“That’s what we have to do and what we will do if it’s the right decision for this football club.
“That’s the remit and I have no problem with that.
“The rumours will start flying around, but my remit is to make way to bring somebody else in and that’s what I will do.
“We have made enquiries, but everybody is waiting to see what they get before they can let go and we are no different to that.
“Everybody is waiting to see what the best price is. You are always waiting to get the best deal. That’s why probably all the deals are done as late as they are.
“I personally don’t agree with it, it becomes a bit of a farce. I don’t see why we have the windows, you should be able to do transfers through the season, it stops people from trading.
“Desperate isn’t the right word. What we are trying to do is make ourselves stronger by helping the people who are here and if that means bringing people in then that’s what we will try and do.”
Jones refuses to name specific transfer targets, although striker Earnshaw has been linked with the Owls after returning to Cardiff from a loan spell at Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The 31-year-old has played 58 times for Wales, but is not in Malky Mackay’s first-team plans at Cardiff.
“I promise you that because I won’t give you names it doesn’t mean that we are not looking,” said Jones. “Some players, even in the Championship, are just way out of our price bracket.
“What they are earning is far above what we can afford to pay, so we have to look elsewhere.
“I can promise the fans we are trying really hard to bring people in, the chairman is on at me every day. But at this stage of the season people are waiting, unless you have got money to go and buy players.
“I have never worked with Ernie (Earsnhaw), but he has just come back from Israel and the agent has said he is available, which is probably why his name has been associated,” said Jones.
“But everybody is looking for good players and he is just one of them.
“At the end of the day all good players should interest you. It’s whether you can afford them, and if you can get them.
“We have strikers who aren’t scoring at the moment so you either find a formula or bring people in who you think can score.
“But there’s no guarantee. When we got Jay (Bothroyd), a top Championship player, it just didn’t work, for whatever reason. That can happen.
“It doesn’t take a genius to see we have stopped conceding, but we are not scoring enough goals.”
One player Jones hopes can return to Hillsborough this month is Everton teenager Ross Barkley, who was recalled from a loan spell earlier in the season after injuries at Goodison Park.
The 19-year-old impressed when scoring four times in a dozen games and while he has been a substitute for the Toffees in recent weeks, Jones believes a run of first-team games with the Owls would serve Barkley well.
“That will be down to Everton at the end of the day, if we want to go back for that player,” said Jones.
He added: “Ross enjoyed his time here, his development for the Premier League is probably just not there and he will probably need a run of games to get him there.
“It’s whether Everton can afford to do that, so why not loan players out?”