From goal which turned Sheffield Wednesday's season to the scrapheap as midfielder is released

Jeff Hendrick has been made a free agent after a season-long loan at Sheffield Wednesday which largely disappointed despite one crucial contribution.

The 32-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder was a panic deadline-day signing, along with John Buckley, by Owls manager Xisco Munoz in September in an attempt to inject more experience into a team which had made a dreadful start to the season after a welter of youthful signings, many new to English football.

But Hendick made only five starts for Wednesday, four of them in September. After kicking off Danny Rohl's first game as the new manager, at Watford in October, he only made substitute appearances – six in all competitions in addition to coming off the bench in Munoz's final match, at West Bromwich Albion.

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Rohl actually de-registered Hendrick from the squad after the mid-season transfer window but was unable to return him to Newcastle United because unlike Buckley his loan did not contain a break clause.

He was eventually re-registered for the run-in, and featured as a substitute in the 2-0 Easter Monday defeat at Middlesbrough, his last Owls appearance.

Now he has gone back to St James' Park, to be told he is one of five players released at the end of their contracts.

Hendrick only scored one goal for the Owls but it would be a hugely important one, a 90th-minute equaliser at Leicester City on November 29 which ended a run of five defeats in his first six games for Rohl, and kick-started his side into a remarkable and successful fight against relegation.

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TURNING POINT: Jeff Hendrick's stoppage-time equaliser for Sheffield Wednesday against Leicester City changed the course of Danny Rohl's first season as managerTURNING POINT: Jeff Hendrick's stoppage-time equaliser for Sheffield Wednesday against Leicester City changed the course of Danny Rohl's first season as manager
TURNING POINT: Jeff Hendrick's stoppage-time equaliser for Sheffield Wednesday against Leicester City changed the course of Danny Rohl's first season as manager

Had the Championship table started that morning, Wednesday would have finished in the play-off places.

He is now a free agent in the summer transfer window, which officially opens on June 14, the opening day of the European Championship, but is in practice already in operation.

Also released are Loris Karius, who started in goal for Liverpool in the 2018 European Cup final but was blamed for two of Real Madrid's three goals, Paul Dummett – a 32 year-old defender who has been with the club since the age of nine – Matt Ritchie and Kell Watts, another who joined the academy whilst still at primary school.

After failing to qualify for Europe next season and with financial fair play considerations a concern, it makes sense for the Magpies to reduce their squad next season.

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“Paul, Matt, Loris, Kell and Jeff have been consummate professionals during their time here, and I extend my very best wishes to each of them," said Newcastle manager Eddie Howe. They move on knowing they will always be welcome at St James’ Park.”

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