Player Report: Deon Burton
For our second player report, Vital Sheffield Wednesday looks at Deon Burton, and the importance of him penning a new deal at Hillsborough!
The former Derby and Portsmouth man was brought to Hillsborough in January 2006 under Paul Sturrock, and he played a huge part in helping the Owls avoid the drop last season.
Many people questioned his signature after his previous spell at Rotherham United, myself included.
I imagined Burton had been brought in as a stop-gap until the end of the season, to help us stay up and to add some depth to our attacking options as we looked to stay in the Championship at the first time of asking.
He'd then be shipped out in the summer, or kept as back-up, as we went in to the transfer market and brought someone better and younger to the club, to help us take that next step forward and secure a mid-table spot the following season.
How wrong was I?
Burton has given a masterclass this season, and I never imagined I'd say this, not even after his penalty against Hull which got him off the mark all those months ago.
Not only has he been a key figure for us, but the decision over his new contract this summer is crucial if we want to continue our progression next season: it will almost be like a new signing in itself.
He picked up the 'Forward of the Year' award at the club's recent presentation night at at Hillsborough to mark the end of the season, and rightly so. Much praise has been heaped on Steve Maclean, and much has been said about bringing a 20-goal a season man to the club in the summer, but all that talk has died down in recent weeks, or even months.
Burton is central to our plans in attack.
We have a good mix at the club in Burton, Maclean, Marcus Tudgay and Leon Clarke, and Brian Laws has taken advantage of that by rotating his crop in recent weeks, and it has worked to a tee.
BUT (and the only but I have) Burton is the ONLY player who can work with every striker at the club, in my opinion.
His link-up play with Marcus Tudgay has been spot on from the word go, and even when people thought Maclean couldn't be a good partner for Burton, both have come out and praised each others games and have worked well together while Tudgay has been out on the right.
If we put Tudgay with Maclean, Maclean with Clarke, or Clarke with Tudgay then I don't think our attack would be quite as dangerous; in truth, certain matches have proved that this season.
So then, Chris Brunt, Frank Simek, Steve Maclean, Glenn Whelan? Worries, worries, worries...
But one of the biggest deals I'll be looking out for this summer will be the deal to secure Burton a contract extension - and hopefully it will come to fruition in the weeks ahead.