Despite having only taken over the reins at Hillsborough in January, Steve Bruce is now on the verge of joining Newcastle United this summer after resigning from his role as Sheffield Wednesday manager.
Magpies owner has now paid the £4m compensatory fee that the Owls wanted for the 58-year-old before he walked out on the club earlier today.
Wednesday Chairman Dejphon Chansiri is now on the look out for a new man to lead the club forward and will undoubtedly be wanting to act fast with the new Championship campaign scheduled to kick-off in 18 days’ time.
Although Bruce had a positive impression on the majority of the Owls’ players during his brief spell in charge at the club, there were several individuals who suffered from a lack of playing time under his tenure-ship who may now benefit from his departure.
Keeping this in mind, here are three players who we think could thrive in the absence of the former Aston Villa boss…
Although he was always going to find it difficult to compete for a place up-front last season with the likes of Fernando Forestieri, Steven Fletcher and Lucas Joao as his main rivals, it could be argued that Sam Winnall wasn’t given enough opportunities to express himself by Bruce.
With just one start to his name in the Championship and a handful of substitute appearances, the 28-year-old was unable to find any sort of rhythm for his side which resulted in him failing to find the target for the Owls.
Yet now that Bruce has moved on to pastures new, Winnall may be able to force his way into Wednesday’s plans for the upcoming campaign, barring that he avoids the injury issues which have plagued his time at Hillsborough in recent years.
Joost van Aken
Signed by the Owls in 2017 from Dutch side SC Heerenveen, Joost van Aken initially made a positive impression under then-boss Carlos Carvalhal before seeing his debut campaign ended early by a hamstring injury.
Since this setback, the 25-year-old has only featured on two occasions for Wednesday and was frozen out by Bruce who preferred the centre-back partnership of Michael Hector and Tom Lees.
With Hector back at Chelsea following the expiry of his loan deal and a new man expected to take over at Hillsborough, van Aken could see this scenario as a fresh start for his Owls career.
A product of the club’s youth academy, Connor Kirby has failed to kick-on since making his debut last year with Wednesday using him almost exclusively in their under-23 setup.
A regular for that particular side, the 20-year-old will be aiming to make some major inroads during pre-season in an attempt to put pressure on the likes of Barry Bannan and Joey Pelupessy who both currently occupy starting roles for the Owls in their midfield.