Loan trio ‘give us vital competition for places’

Dave Jones says his trio of signings in the last two days of the emergency loan window have brought more strength and competition for places to the squad.

The arrival of midfielders Seyi Olofinjana and Stuart Holden were followed by the surprise signing of 36-year-old striker Steve Howard from Hartlepool and Jones said: “It gives me a good headache to have in that I now have more players all round who want to be involved.

“I’ve always said that competition is vital to your club. If you bring players in then there’ll be one or two long faces amongst the current squad, but what it should do is have them saying … if you want my shirt then you’ll have to earn it.”

Referring to Holden and Olofinjana, Jones said that with Giles Coke still recovering from a troublesome foot injury and David Prutton close to suspension, it was important to be able to strengthen the midfield.

He said: “They are two quality players, both internationals who can only benefit the lads that are here.”

On Nigeria international Olofinjana, Jones said: “The lad knows the division, he’s a quality player who has played at this level as well as in the Premiership, so he is a big asset to us.”

Talking of US international Holden, who has suffered knee problems over the last two years after an excellent start with Bolton, Jones said: “To pick up a full international like Stuart, who was taking the Premier League by storm until his injury, is a big bonus.

“He’s good on the ball, he sees the pass and he’s got a goal in him.”

The arrival of veteran Howard has raised eyebrows amongst some Wednesday fans who have questioned the signing of a player who has scored just three goals this season for struggling Hartlepool in division one.

Jones said: “We felt we needed experience and Stevie has certainly got that at this level. He’ll be good cover for us when we need it.

“We needed a focal point up front. We’ve got Gary Madine but he’s a young lad who’s still learning his trade at this level. Also, if he picks up an injury, having lost Michail we needed that extra striker in.”

Responding to concerns about Howard’s age, Jones talked of older strikers like Kevin Phillips, Kevin Davies and Jason Roberts who have all brought their experience to help clubs in the Championship and the Premier League.

Some might say why bring in Howard when we allowed Chris O’Grady to go out on loan to Barnsley for the rest of the season. Jones said: “We’ve had to let certain people go to allow us to bring others in.

“If we let one person go and we can bring in three players then it helps. We brought in Pugh, we brought in Lita and we brought in Connor Wickham, although Sunderland called him back.”