Date:Friday May 6 2011
Neil Mellor will play his final game of a season-long loan spell with Wednesday when Exeter City visit Hillsborough this weekend before returning to parent club Preston North End.
The former Liverpool striker will depart Hillsborough with at least 20 goals to his name, the club's Player of the Year award, and the Player of the Month award for April.
Vital Wednesday understands Mellor is on Owls boss Gary Megson's wishlist to sign permanently in the close season - but his form in the blue and white this term could mean a return to Hillsborough is far from straightforward.
Brighton & Hove Albion, promoted as npower League One champions this season, have been linked with his services in the media, while Preston boss Phil Brown will also meet with Mellor to discuss his future on his return to Deepdale.
It's a welcome problem for the player, who was deemed as surplus to requirements at the Lancashire club only 12 months ago, despite having an impressive record of 30 league goals in 63 starts for the Lilywhites.
Indeed, prior to his move to S6, Mellor was a regular for North End and scored 11 goals in 44 appearances last season.
He moved to Wednesday in the hope of proving his doubters wrong, which he certainly has done, and with the hope of securing a permanent deal with Wednesday, Vital understands, while Alan Irvine, also his manager at Preston, was in charge of the Owls.
Things have changed since then, with Irvine being replaced by Gary Megson, and Preston bringing in Phil Brown as manager. The Lilywhites have also suffered relegation and will be playing in League One with the Owls next term.
It means Preston don't have the advantage of offering Mellor a higher level of football, although they do still have him tied down to a contract for next season, so his future very much lies in their hands.
What Wednesday do have on their side, which is different to the scenario 12 months ago, is money. The Owls are again set to have the largest budget in the division next season thanks to chairman Milan Mandaric, and it means that not only can Wednesday offer the cash to buy Mellor, but they can also offer him better wages than PNE.
They also have the 'love-in' factor with the striker. After seemingly being unwanted at Deepdale last term, Mellor has seemed to enjoy his football at Wednesday - his goals to games ratio shows this - and has also been rewarded with the Player of the Year award, as voted for by the fans.
The fact that the Wednesday management and supporters want to see him back in the blue and white stripes of the Owls next term will work in the club's favour.
One problem could be the rumoured interest of Gus Poyet's Brighton, playing in the Championship next season, although that talk is purely speculation at this stage.
Mellor will meet with Phil Brown on his return to Preston, but the Lilywhites are almost certain to receive an offer for Mellor from Wednesday when Megson and Mandaric get down to business.
He's certainly proved he can be lethal at this level and a return to Hillsborough for the powerful frontman will certainly be a welcome addition for most Owls fans next term.
Date:Friday May 6 2011
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