One to Watch - Ross Wallace
Name: Ross Wallace
Date of Birth: 23/05/1985
Previous Clubs: Celtic; Sunderland; Preston North End (L); Preston North End; Burnley.
Apps (goals) 451 (49)
While Sheffield Wednesday have an enviable amount of quality in the striker positions, with the likes or Jordan Rhodes, Fernando Forestieri, Sam Winnall and Steven Fletcher all battling it out to be the main man in attack, arguably one of if not the most important and influential players of the last two years has been Ross Wallace.
Following his release from Burnley after their relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2014/2015 season, where he had played his football for five years, his signing on a free transfer has proved to be an excellent piece of business from the Owls, having initially snapped him up on a one-year contract.
That deal was extended last summer, although the length was undisclosed by the club, after Wallace had helped the side to the Play-Off final last term, netting in both legs of the semi-final against this season`s champions elect Brighton, before the club went down to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Hull at Wembley in May.
Wednesday are the fifth different club that the Dundee-born Wallace has represented in his career to date, having come through the youth ranks with Scottish side Celtic, making his debut as an 18-year-old coming on from the bench for the final 20 minutes of a 4-2 League Cup win at home to Inverness back in October 2002.
He never managed to establish himself as a first-team regular at Celtic Park, for whom he made 18 league starts and 52 appearances in total, which included an outing in the Champions League against Barcelona, before he was allowed to leave the club just prior to the closure of the summer transfer window in 2006.
After featuring twice for the club at the start of that campaign, he moved south of the boarder to sign for Sunderland, then in the Championship, and got his Black Cats career off to a flying start as he bagged the winner in a 2-1 win away at Derby, in what was the start of an eventful beginning to his time at the club.
He would see red twice in his first two months, but became an important member of the squad as Roy Keane led the club to the league title, giving Wallace the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League, although his time in the English top flight was short lived, as he was deemed surplus to requirements after one season.
Two league goals for the Black Cats in 21 Premier League appearances was not enough for Keane to view him as a key member of the squad, and he dropped back down to the Championship ahead of the 2008/2009 season, joining Preston on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal at the end of the campaign.
Come January of that season, the transfer was completed, as he signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Lilywhites, and at the end of his first year with the club, he helped them to the Play-Off semi-finals, when they came up short against Sheffield United over two legs, narrowly losing 2-1 on aggregate to the Blades.
His time at Deepdale would last only two years, as after 12 goals in 80 league games for the club, he moved to local rivals and fellow Championship side Burnley in July 2010, with whom he would play the most football of his career to date, and get the opportunity to play in the Premier League once again.
He took home a second Championship winners medal at the end of the 2014/2015 season as Sean Dyche`s side emerged as Champions, but as was the case in his only other top-flight campaign while at Sunderland, chances in the first team were limited, as he made just 18 appearances, during which he managed one league goal.
Following their relegation back to the Championship at the first attempt, Burnley released Wallace at the end of his deal, which had been extended until the summer of 2015, where he had made just over 150 appearances in all competitions, and upon his release, his current employers moved to secure his services.
After an impressive first season at Hillsborough, that saw him score six times to help lead the side to Wembley, this season began slowly for Wallace, and it was not until mid-January that he netted his first of the campaign, the opener in a 2-0 home win against Huddersfield, which has since been followed by four more league strikes.
Brilliant from a set-piece with his left-foot, and with plenty of ammunition to fire at in the Wednesday attack, Wallace is one of the main suppliers of chances to the Owls attack, and Darnell Furlong will need to be at the top of his game if is he is to extinguish the threat of the wily one-cap Scottish international down the Rangers right.