Accrington Stanley v Sheffield Wednesday: Owls boss Darren Moore finding it tough to find right reinforcements

THE market is flooded with free agents able to join football clubs now rather than during the January transfer window – but finding players able to instantly step up to the physical demands of League One is a different story.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore thinks he has found a defender who can reinforce a backline missing Dominic Iorfa, Sam Hutchinson, Lewis Gibson and Marvin Johnson, and with Jack Hunt doubtful for today’s League One trip to Accrington Stanley.

The problem is so do two other clubs and the Owls have asked for an answer by 5pm on Monday.

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The injury news was at least positive yesterday, with forwards Lee Gregory and Josh Windass added to this afternoon’s squad.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Darren Moore Picture: Steve Ellis

“I’ve gone hard to bring in a defensive cover player,” revealed Moore. “He’s one we feel could step in now. He’s a good calibre, a good fit and would be excellent in terms of how we are now. We’ve got another but if we have to get him fit, it would be weeks.”

That is the problem for clubs dabbling in the free agent market. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, released by Middlesbrough in the summer, has been training for weeks now and played alongside Windass in a behind-closed-doors friendly this week, but Moore is yet to make him an offer.

The tale of Gibson, sent back injured from his loan at Everton and unlikely to return, shows how careful Moore will have to be if he looks to recruit more youngsters yet to experience regular senior football in January.

“The brutal physicality of the game has just broken one and we’ve had to really be patient with another (Theo Corbeanu),” he said. “That initial step from academy to first-team football is big.

“You’ve got to pick the young, talented players really carefully so their bodies are robust. Making the step up too soon can destroy a player’s confidence.”

Team news: Lee Gregory and Josh Windass are added to the squad, bringing attacking bite to a side which has suffered badly with defensive injuries in particular lately. Massimo Luongo could be ready to start and Ciaran Brennan may do too having been ineligible in midweek.

Last six games: Accrington Stanley LWLDDW; Sheffield Wednesday LDWDWD. Referee: P Howard (London). Last time: First meeting.