Reading v Sheffield Wednesday - New arrival Kadeem Harris hopes direct approach can take Owls higher

THIS has been no ordinary summer at Sheffield Wednesday.

Kadeem Harris, right, playing for Cardiff against Brighton last season. (Picture: PA)

Placed under a soft transfer embargo by the Football League after posting their last accounts late, the Owls also had to contend with manager Steve Bruce’s shock departure just a couple of weeks into pre-season.

Then, just this last week, Fernando Forestieri was hit with a six-game ban after the Argentinian had been found guilty of using racist language in a friendly against Mansfield Town more than a year ago.

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With all this going on, the focus could easily have strayed away from the football at a club who still have no permanent successor to Bruce despite the former Hull City chief having left midway through last month.

Sheffield Wednesday caretaker manager Lee Bullen. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA

Kadeem Harris, however, insists the opposite is true with the players and caretaker manager Lee Bullen having had no trouble in brushing aside any off-field problems.

“It has been easy to brush all that off and put it to one side,” said the 26-year-old ahead of what is likely to be his competitive debut today as the Owls head to Reading.

“We are all professionals here and the coaching staff have done a great job with all the distractions. It has been a group thing. The players and staff have helped each other.”

For Harris to not find the off-field problems that initially held up the wideman’s move to Hillsborough a distraction says much about his character.

The route to S6 has not been an easy one. Having started his career with a bang by becoming the youngest player in the history of Wycombe Wanderers at just 16, Harris soon became familiar with the trials and tribulations that can befall a footballer.

A move to Cardiff City in 2012 was followed by the Bluebirds going through umpteen managerial changes, while a couple of frustrating injuries – including one early in the Bluebirds’ promotion campaign under Neil Warnock in 2017-18 that meant he hardly played – also served to stall the Londoner’s progress.

Even the joy of playing in the Premier League last season was tempered by most of his 13 appearances being late cameos from the bench.

A move to south Yorkshire, therefore, is seen as the perfect way to kick-start a career that has featured just 55 league starts in a little under a decade.

“This is a massive chance (to play a full season),” said the 26-year-old. “That is what I have wanted to do my whole career. I have the opportunity now and it is up to me. I am confident I can do that.”

Harris’s arrival came via the wishes of, first, Bruce and now Bullen to add some much-needed pace to a squad that until May had barely changed since Wednesday reached the Championship play-off final in 2016.

Former Hull City full-back Moses Odubajo and Julian Börner, signed from German second tier club Arminia Bielefeld, are the other two free agents to have joined during a summer that only saw the soft embargo lifted late last month.

Harris added: “I have been told that in recent years the club did not have a player like myself, who is quick and very direct.

“That is a massive confidence boost for me.

“Now, it is in my hands to perform and provide goals and assists. The team has a great balance. A bit of everything now. We have got great technical players and now the likes of me, Dom (Iorfa) and Moses who can add that injection of pace. It is a great balance.

“Of course, in this league you don’t know what to expect. I have always said that. I could not tell you now who will be right at the top and who will be bottom. It is full of shocks every season. I am sure it will be the same this year.

“We just concentrate on ourselves. And I think there is not much in this league that can stop us. Or be too much for us. We are confident as a bunch. We have the talent here to do well this season.”

As Wednesday’s Steel City neighbours proved last term when losing their first two matches, how a team starts in the Championship does not always have a huge bearing on how it finishes.

Nevertheless, the Owls will be looking for a much more encouraging season’s bow than a year ago at Wigan Athletic.

So befuddled did Jos Luhukay’s side look in losing 3-2 at the DW Stadium that the following Monday’s Yorkshire Post suggested they brought to mind one of Eric Morecambe’s most famous one-liners.

“I’m playing all the right notes,” the funnyman had once said to Andre Previn after the composer had taken exception to his piano playing, “but not necessarily in the right order.”

Luhukay had the right personnel on duty against the Latics but too many were deployed out of position with Sam Hutchinson occupying an advanced midfield role behind the strikers, Barry Bannan sitting far too deep and Tom Lees having to make do with a slot on the right side of a back three due to Joost van Aken starting in the middle.

A repeat today of this square pegs in round holes approach seems unlikely with Bullen’s biggest headache surrounding which of his six strikers should get the nod up front.

Among the contenders is Forestieri, able to play after Wednesday appealed against his six game ban.

“Fernando is the same as everyone else,” said Harris when asked about the Argentinian. “Focused and raring to go when he gets the opportunity to step back on the pitch.

“He has been great. A great person as well. I did not expect anything less.”

As for the coming season, Harris added: “I had the taste (of the Premier League last season) and I would like that again. That is why I have one thing on my mind – promotion.

“This club deserves to be in the Premier League. Recent years, they have been close but not quite having made it. I think this could be the year.”