GARY MEGSON is adamant Sheffield Wednesday will not just be a training ground for the Premier League’s big clubs despite an influx of loan players this season.
The League One club are still rebuilding under chairman Milan Mandaric after over a decade of decline and rising debts.
And while Megson has taken the resurgent Owls into second place in League One, against a backdrop of financial prudence, it has meant a reliance on loan signings to bolster the Hillsborough squad.
Megson currently has six loan players on the books – only five are allowed to play in each game under Football League rules.
That will be irrelevant tomorrow in the FA Cup for five out of the six players are not available for selection for the visit of Aldershot to Hillsborough.
Megson carries extensive background checks on his loan targets, determined that they will apply themselves to the Owls’ cause, rather than just see it as another stepping stone on their progression to a Premier League career.
“We are not a nursery for the big clubs. Every player we go for, has to realise they can’t just come here and poodle about,” he said.
“The be-all and end-all at Sheffield Wednesday is the score, we are not here just to bring players on for other people.
“I don’t like having loan players in particular, but we have to do that because that’s the situation we are in.”
Megson is hoping to secure players on a more permanent footing in the January transfer window, but accepts financial constraints mean he may have to persevere with loan signings in the short-term.
“We are not big enough at the moment, and we can’t do them all at the same time,” said Megson. “The club has been on a downward spiral for some time, it’s had the odd leap, both on and off the pitch.
“We have to make sure we build it up brick by brick.”
Goalkeeper Stephen Bywater is one loan player Megson is keen to keep at Hillborough for the long-term.
The Derby County stopper’s loan expires after the League One visit of Huddersfield Town on December 17 and Megson is hoping to secure his return when the transfer window re-opens next month.
“I have told the powers-that-be that I want to keep Stephen here, whether it be on a loan basis until the end of the season or sign him permanently,” he said. “I would be open to both options.
“But I have to be perfectly honest, I would rather we sign players and they become our players so we know what we are doing. We want to be in charge rather than the parent club.
“Having so many loan players is not ideal. The ones we have got have been terrific, but you have to do your homework.”
Bywater (Derby), midfielder Ben Marshall (Stoke City) and striker Sanchez Watt (Arsenal) are not allowed to play tomorrow by their parent clubs, Miguel Llera (Blackpool) is cup-tied having played in the first round of the competition for Brentford, while Danny Batth (Wolverhampton) is suspended.
The only temporary player allowed to feature tomorrow is on-loan Newcastle United right-back James Tavernier.
“You can see the problems it causes,” said Megson. “We have a squad of 28 players, yet six of them aren’t our players so it makes life difficult.”
Tavernier and Llera made their debuts in the home win against Leyton Orient last weekend and impressed Megson.
“Tavernier’s pacy and can get himself forward and back very quickly. He is a young lad, some of the things he did on Saturday were very good, but one or two things weren’t what we were looking for and that is purely down to experience. We have spoke to him about it.
“But that’s what he is here for, to get experience, Newcastle have let him come to get that but, from our own point of view, we have to be winning games.”
One of the surprise packages for Megson this season has been the form of Reda Johnson, who has excelled after being converted from centre-half to left-back.
He netted the winner against Orient, had a second goal wiped out for pushing elsewhere in the box by a team-mate and is a constant danger at set-pieces.
Megson said: “Reda is really strong and can run all day. He has a great attitude, and a real desire to score goals. He scored on Saturday and had another chalked off through no fault of his own – I can’t see what was wrong with it.
“It was even worse at Bury (where the Owls lost 2-1). All he did was jump higher than the goalkeeper could and the referee has taken a point off of us.”