Versatility has its ups and downs for Owls newcomer

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Danny Pugh hates being called a utility player but the former Manchester United youngster admits he has been called worse things over the years.

Now 30, Pugh has spent the majority of his career since those Old Trafford days patrolling the left flank and that is where he sat on his Sheffield Wednesday debut at Charlton Athletic last weekend.

It capped a whirlwind 24 hours with his loan move from Leeds United rushed through so he could meet his new team-mates at the team hotel on Friday evening.

With Jeremy Helan arriving back at Hillsborough this week in a loan deal from Manchester City, Owls manager Dave Jones certainly has options down the left flank, with full-back Reda Johnson also to consider.

Not that Pugh is complaining too much about his versatility which has seen him grace Preston North End and Stoke City over the years, if it means he can carry on playing after being left on the sidelines at Elland Road by Whites manager Neil Warnock for much of this season.

The Charlton game was only Pugh’s seventh match of the season, and the Manchester-born player admits he was desperate to get away from Leeds to get some first-team action.

“I was ready to get out,” he admitted. “I didn’t want to waste the entire season, having a bit-part here and a bit-part there. A move away was something I wanted to happen and, when this opportunity came up, I jumped at it.

“The manager (Neil Warnock) was fine, I think he understood where I was coming from.

“They are both very big clubs who have been at the very top and the main aim for both Leeds and Wednesday is to get back up in the Premier League.”

With another year on his contract at Leeds after this season, Pugh is uncertain where his future lies.

For now, he just wants to accumulate as many games as possible and help the Owls climb away from relegation trouble.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen at Leeds,” he said. “I have a contract for another year there after this season, but I am just here now to get my head down and work as hard as I can.

“To be honest, I am not looking that far ahead, I just want to get as much as I can out of this season and do well for Sheffield Wednesday.”

Asked if he thinks Wednesday can catch their Yorkshire neighbours in the Championship table, Pugh grinned: “That would be a bit special.

“It’s been really good at Wednesday, the deal happened really quickly on the Friday night. Having the game against Charlton on the Saturday was probably a good thing, really.

“I have enjoyed the first week, the game was good, so was the training.

“This season I haven’t played much, bits here and bits there, but not a consistent amount of games, really. That’s what I need and, hopefully, I can get it here.

“I didn’t feel too bad after the Charlton game, obviously you don’t have the sharpness you get playing four or five games.”

Asked if he faces competition for the left-side of midfield with Helan, Pugh replied: “I don’t know, that’s not for me to answer. There’s always going to be competition at any club you’re at. The more quality players there are, the more competitive it’s going to be and the more successful the team will be.”

On being labelled a utility player, Pugh said: “There are pros and cons. Sometimes you play games you wouldn’t normally play, then other games you miss out on because you’re constantly moving around.

“It’s something I have had for a good number of years now, but I have had worse names.”

Asked to choose his best position, Pugh quipped: “I daren’t say anything because it could get me out of the team. I am just happy, as long as I am playing.

“Mainly, I have played left-back, left midfield or centre midfield. The left side is where I have played most of my football.

“I have never worked with Dave Jones personally, but having seen the teams that he has managed – and the success he has had – the chance to work with him was a great opportunity for myself.

“It’s a tough league and there are some big games coming up. It’s going to be a battle but it’s something I think everyone is looking forward to. There are a good set of lads, it’s been positive.”

Today, the Owls face high-flying Brighton and are looking to take an impressive away record and transform it into Hillsborough victories.

Pugh said: “Brighton are one of the best teams in the league, they are a top team and it will be difficult for us. But at home there’s no reason why we can’t get something out of the game if we perform to our capabilities.

“I have always enjoyed playing at Hillsborough, I have had mixed results. The crowd’s obviously unbelievable and plays a big part and I am looking forward to having them on my side this time.

“It was a scrappy game at Charlton – I thought I did okay – but the result was the main thing. A great three points.”

Striker Gary Madine was linked to several clubs on Thursday’s transfer deadline day, including Tranmere and Swindon, but manager Dave Jones has refused to talk about individual players.

“I have had interest in a lot of players, I am not going to talk about individual players. But if there’s interest and we want those players to go, then we speak to those players. As yet, I haven’t spoken to Gary.

“Sometimes people release things just to test the water. I will not talk about players coming in or out until the deal is done.

“There possibly will be one or two more that will move out to make space, because if we do need to bring people in after the window closes, it gives me that scope and that’s what I am looking at.”

Dutch striker Jeffrey Sarpong is on trial at Hillsborough. The 24-year-old striker started out with Ajax before spending three years with Real Sociedad in Spain.

He is now a free agent and last week had a trial with Premier League side Stoke City.

Jones said he is one of around six trialists the Owls have been looking at in January.

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