Sheffield Wednesday: Massimo Luongo ‘has been a big part of why we have turned a corner’

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY captain Barry Bannan has paid tribute to the impact of midfield cohort Massimo Luongo – and is keeping his fingers crossed that he remains at the club next term.

The former QPR player, 29, who has been a regular in the second half of the season for Wednesday after an injury-disrupted opening half of 2021-22, is one of a clutch of players whose deals expire next month.

Callum Paterson, Saido Berahino, Jack Hunt, Liam Palmer, Chey Dunkley, Sam Hutchinson and Joe Wildsmith are also out of contract, with Darren Moore having revealed that he has already opened talks with ‘one or two’ players whose deals end.

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On the importance of Luongo, Bannan said: “I would love for him to be involved with the club next season and, hopefully, Mass and the club can get all that sorted once we deal with (on-pitch) business first.”

Sheffield Wednesday midfield duo George Byers and Massimo Luongo. Picture: Steve Ellis

In the here and now, the Australian is preparing for the start of the Owls’ League One play-off campaign on Friday night when Moore’s side visit Sunderland in the first leg of their semi-final at the Stadium of Light.

The experience in the middle of the park of Luongo and Bannan is likely to be pivotal to the hopes of the Hillsborough outfit, although they are sweating on the fitness of the latter, who came off with what appeared to be an injury issue late on in the club’s play-off clinching victory over Portsmouth.

Despite his own stellar form this term, Bannan admits that the contribution of Luongo has been a big part in the club’s impressive transformation from January onwards and in his own form.

Prior to Luongo’s return to the side, the Owls were two places and six points away from the top six, but have lost just three times in 20 matches he has played in since his return, winning 13.

Bannan added: “He’s been brilliant. He’s been a big part of it and when he plays, it makes my life a lot easier because I can go off and do the things I enjoy doing and he can do the things he says he doesn’t like doing, but he does because he does it every week!

“He has been a big part of why we have turned a corner, (and) a massive part of the club that has been here a while now.

“He is experienced and he is the type of person you want next to you going into these sort of games.”