Sheffield Wednesday could be in for a tough, long summer if their worst fears are founded and they’re relegated to League One.
It’s a division they haven’t seen since 2012, but six losses in a row has seen them rooted in 23rd position in the Championship, with Darren Moore not able to give them the new manager spark that other clubs sometimes get.
The Owls being seven points from safety means it’s going to need a streak of good results to get them out of trouble, and if they are relegated there could very well be a mass exodus from Hillsborough.
A lot of first-team players find themselves with expiring contracts at the end of the season, with regular starters like Tom Lees, Adam Reach and and Kieran Westwood – all with their futures hanging in the balance.
Another player whose deal is up in the summer is Joost van Aken, who has become somewhat of a forgotten man at Hillsborough.
Van Aken was a 2017 addition by Jos Luhukay from Heerenveen in Holland, but a hamstring injury ended his first season four months prematurely.
The Dutchman made just two appearances the following season – both in the opening month of the campaign – and he was given a lifeline in the summer of 2019 by joining German side Osnabruck on a season-long loan.
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He played 22 times in Germany’s second tier and to the surprise of many, Van Aken found himself in Garry Monk’s plans at the start of this season.
Van Aken actually played a lot under Tony Pulis as well, but he suffered an ankle injury in December and hasn’t been seen since – and he’s not expected back for a number of weeks.
That may mean that he won’t get a chance to perform under new manager Moore, and that could mean no offer of a new deal at Wednesday – but that may not matter anyway.
According to the Examiner, Van Aken told Dutch media that he would be departing the club when his contract expires, so Wednesday fans may have already seen the last of the 26-year-old in their colours.
That’s not a certainty of course – things can change very quickly in football – but as of now it’s probably quite unlikely that Van Aken will still be in South Yorkshire for the 2021/22 season.