How Forestieri flashpoint No 2 affected Owls: Sheffield Wednesday 1 QPR 1

Sam Winnall equalises. Pictures: Steve Ellis
Sam Winnall equalises. Pictures: Steve Ellis
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You could have forgiven Wednesdayites for feeling a strong sense of deja vu over the weekend.

Fernando Forestieri hogged the headlines 12 months ago when he refused to play against Norwich City in the second round of Championship fixtures. Without Forestieri, the Owls picked up a well-earned point at Carrow Road.

And Forestieri was the major talking point again on Saturday as Wednesday recorded their first point of the 2017/18 season.

The 27-year-old was dropped from the matchday squad following a training-ground bust-up with Sam Winnall. The pair clashed after a mistimed tackle by Forestieri in training on Thursday and had to be separated by their teammates. Forestieri has since been disciplined by the club, although head coach Carlos Carvalhal has tried his best to play down the incident.

In Forestieri’s absence, Winnall was the Owls’ goal hero. He stepped up off the bench to rescue a point for Carvalhal’s men after Jamie Mackie fired the R’s in front after 23 minutes.

Winnall said: “I’m really happy to get on the scoresheet. We knew we had to get our season going in the league. We were all disappointed with the result at Preston last week and we knew we had to put on a show for our fans and show a bit of fight and get ourselves back in the game.

QPR go in front

QPR go in front

“We know we haven’t found our top performance yet, but we’re working on it and we put up a fight and showed that, when things are going against us a little bit, we’re not going to go under and give up.”

THE MATCH

Carvalhal paired Gary Hooper and Jordan Rhodes together up front but everything that could go wrong did in the first half. After a bright, purposeful start where Daniel Pudil and Rhodes squandered good chances, the Owls lost their way.

And questions over Wednesday’s lack of strength of depth at the heart of their defence reared their head again. Influential duo Sam Hutchinson and captain Glenn Loovens, one of only two senior recognised centre-halves in the squad, were forced to come off with injuries after less than half an hour.

An injury to Sam Hutchinson

An injury to Sam Hutchinson

Loovens injured himself after falling awkwardly trying to block Mackie’s low shot.

Loovens going off meant a major defensive reshuffle and better sides than QPR would have picked the Owls off.

“It was a strange beginning,” said Carvalhal.

“We miss two players and especially at the beginning of the season it created a negative impact to the team.”

Glenn Loovens leaves the field

Glenn Loovens leaves the field

Things had to improve in the second half and they did.

Wednesday, playing a diamond formation in midfield, upped the tempo and showed greater urgency.

And there was a palpable sense of relief among the crowd when Winnall drilled in the equaliser after Nedum Onuoha failed to cut out Barry Bannan’s cross.

Rhodes could have completed the turnaround but he somehow headed over from close range after more good work by Bannan.

Ultimately, Wednesday were grateful for the point as Kazenga LuaLua side-footed wide in the closing stages when one on one..

Carvalhal said: “The second half was completely different. We pressed Queens Park Rangers much more and moved the ball better.

“The Sheffield Wednesday in the second half was the Sheffield Wednesday of the past two seasons. In the second half I felt we deserved to win the game.”

TESTING TIMES

Supporters patience is wearing thin at S6 and the problems keep piling up for Carvalhal, who cut a frustrated figure in his post-match press conference.

Two matches into the new season and Wednesday have collected only one point. So much for a fast start.

The trouble is, the Owls have failed to rectify their defensive deficiencies and the latest disciplinary issue surrounding Forestieri is the last thing Carvalhal needs right now.

When pressed on whether Forestieri will be involved against Sunderland, Carvalhal kept his cards close to his chest.

“I will not talk about internal situations because it is not fair,” he said. “I know these types of situations happen in other clubs in all the teams in the world and most of the time it doesn’t come to the Press.

“Just because someone said there was a little problem between two players (doesn’t mean we will make it) a big problem.

“It is something that happens often. I know because I played football. I know this happens. What I must do is manage the discipline in the club.”

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