Sheffield Wednesday have ended their interest in Malta striker Etienne Barbara, club chairman Lee Strafford told The Times yesterday.

The former Malta international had been on trial with the Championship side since last Monday and formed part of the Owls squad that competed in the JPL Cup and Sliema Centennial Cup tournaments at the Victor Tedesco Stadium earlier this week.

However, club chairman Strafford yesterday announced that manager Brian Laws had decided to end his interest in the 28-year-old forward who last season was on the books of German Regionalliga side SC Verle.

"Etienne Barbara will not be joining Sheffield Wednesday," Strafford said.

"After talks with our manager Brian Laws and other members in the coaching staff we have decided against pursuing further interest. Etienne is definitely a talented player who has trained very hard with us this week but we feel that he hasn't the level of skill required to earn a place in our squad.

"Our main target this season is to push for one of the top places in the Championship and we feel that Barbara does not enter in the manager's plans."

Asked whether the English side had set their sights on any other Maltese player during their stay here, Strafford said: "Our manager wasn't really here to look around for new signings as his only focus was to make sure the players completed the pre-season programme without any fitness problems.

"Our involvement in the transfer market is practically completed and we have no intention of buying or selling any player and that includes Marcus Tudgay, subject of continued speculation lately."

Wednesday's stay in Malta comes to a close today. Strafford sounded delighted with how things worked out this week.

"Our training visit to Malta was a very positive experience for us," Strafford said.

"Everything went OK. The hospitality of the Maltese was excellent and we are delighted to have taken this decision to visit the island. We had excellent training facilities and we are all keen to return in the near future."

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