Sheffield Wednesday: Why tackling winter in League One is key for Owls

Out of League One for nine seasons since winning the play-offs with Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday defender Jack Hunt has noticed the differences since he came back in the summer – never more so than at the moment.

“The Championship pitches and stadiums are a lot bigger and better a lot of the time and winter football in League One is more of a gap to the Championship,” says the Leeds-born right wing-back who has had loans at Barnsley and Rotherham United.

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“I would class winter in League One as a massive period for any club and whoever handles that the best will be right up there at the end of the season. We’re right in the thick of the bad weather.”

Owls manager Darren Moore. Picture: Steve Ellis

It is unlikely to be very hospitable at Doncaster Rovers this afternoon.

Coming through these periods tests skills beyond the ability to manipulate a ball with your feet. It is about ugly parts of the game.

Teams need a solid defensive platform – something Wednesday have right now. They needed self-belief, which Hunt says has not been swayed by last week’s 2-0 defeat at home to Rotherham. They need to be united, another tick according to the 31-year-old, and motivated to see the job through. That could be the biggest concern with Hunt admitting the carrot of a top-two finish is fast getting out of reach and the defender one of a clutch of players waiting to hear if his contract will be extended beyond the summer.

“There’s an option in my contract (for another year) only if we get to the Championship and I’ve played a certain amount of games,” he reveals. “I would be open to talking about a contract but no one’s talked to me about it.

Jack Hunt. Picture: Steve Ellis

“There’s always that thought of going back to the Championship and having another season there because 10 seasons in the Championship’s something you can be proud of. I would like to do that with Sheffield Wednesday.

“In an ideal world everyone would like the conversations but we’re professionals with a task to do. I signed a one-year contract to get promoted and I’ll fight all the way.

“It was said in the past contracts got left late and when people were left in limbo performances might dip if their mind’s elsewhere. I had the experience for the first time at Bristol and it wasn’t ideal but when it’s not in your hands you can’t do anything about it.”

The Rotherham loss felt like a blip as one team took their few chances and the other failed to take more, rather than a dip. Until then, the Owls had four straight wins built largely on clean sheets in all of them. They were January signing Jordan Storey’s first games for the club.

“The biggest compliment I can pay Jordan is he does his job so well, it almost goes unnoticed,” says Hunt of the centre-back.

“He never seems to be out of position, he never seems to be lunging for things, if it’s there to be won he seems to win it and he’s got ability and power.

“We’re both good communicators and on the right side of the pitch we’ve had a real good understanding.

“The biggest improvement is we’re working hard as a team in this good spell. Maybe earlier in the season we weren’t on the same page but now we’re right at it and we feel confident going into any game.”

They sound ready to do battle again.