No substitute for experience - Stats show why Sheffield Wednesday are better off with Glenn Loovens

Owls skipper Glenn Loovens leads out his team for the first home league game of the new season....Pic Steve Ellis
Owls skipper Glenn Loovens leads out his team for the first home league game of the new season....Pic Steve Ellis
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There’s no doubting that a young Dutchman has had a positive impact since arriving at Hillsborough, but there’s still plenty of life in the old one yet.

Glenn Loovens’ recent hip injury opened the door for a lengthy run in the side for £4m potential star Joost van Aken and though still raw, the 23 year-old brought in from Heerenveen has shown signs of a bright future in English football.

However, in the Championship, with its various idiosyncrasies which set it apart from almost any league around Europe, experience is a hugely beneficial asset.

So with Loovens now fit and ready for a return to action, Carlos Carvalhal has a decision to make.

Van Aken remains a work in progress. There are aspects of the former Holland under-21 international’s game that need work - decision-making, notably.

Conversely there isn’t a defender at the club anywhere near as comfortable on the ball or with a passing range as impressive as his.

Glenn Loovens was forced off with a back injury in the 1-1 draw with QPR

Glenn Loovens was forced off with a back injury in the 1-1 draw with QPR

The stats, though, show that a Sheffield Wednesday side with Loovens in the team, are a much more difficult outfit to break down than one without.

Under Carvalhal, the 34 year-old has made 70 league appearances and has a win ratio of 49% compared with 37% when he hasn’t played.

The Owls concede slightly less, too, with the team letting in 1.18 per game without Loovens, as opposed to 0.8 in games where he is involved.

The likelihood of a clean sheet is also higher with 38% of the former Celtic and Cardiff defender’s Championship matches ending in a blank at the back, compared with 26% when not playing.

The stats show why Sheffield wednesday get better results with Glenn Loovens in the side

The stats show why Sheffield wednesday get better results with Glenn Loovens in the side

Carvalhal is meticulous in his preparations and while he may or may not know or even care about those statistics in detail, he is certainly well aware of the value of someone like Loovens, not just in defence but to the team as a whole.

For the player himself, the notion of a return to the line-up for tomorrow’s match away to Bolton Wanderers provokes a typically laid-back response.

“This (whether he will be recalled to the side)has got nothing to do with me,” said Loovens. “You’re asking the wrong guy. I just have to make sure I prepare myself in the best way possible which I’ve done. It’s up to (Carvalhal). It’s a good possibility for him that I’m back, he’s got another option so it’s only positive.”

Loovens has been unavailable since the second game of the season, the 1-1 draw with QPR at Hillsborough, during which he got injured while unsuccessfully attempting to prevent Jamie Mackie put the visitors into the lead.

It has taken longer than expected for the club captain to come back from the injury, but having played in a behind-closed-doors game against Mansfield, and then again for the under 23s in a 1-1 draw with Barnsley, Loovens is more than ready to run out at the Macron if selected.

“It’s good (to be fit again),” he said. “I’ve been injured for the last six weeks now so it’s good to play a full 90 minutes. I had 65 last Tuesday as well.

“I need 90 minutes. It was a good game as well, very competitive so it was a good test of myself.

“When you’re injured you have to prepare yourself the best you can to make sure that you are ready. For me, playing two games in one week is the best way.”

This will be Wednesday’s second trip to the Macron this season with the Owls having been knocked out of the EFL Cup there back in August.

That was one of just two wins for Bolton this season, with the other also coming in that competition against League Two Crewe Alexandra.

Carvalhal’s side were 3-0 down before Jordan Rhodes’ double almost brought about a comeback that would have been unfair on the hosts on the night.

A completely different Wednesday team will line up this time around though and Loovens is expecting a very different game.

“There was a lot of changes made,” he said. “This is another game, we have to prepare well for it and we will do it in the best way possible.

“I think they will try to play more direct. They have a big striker so I think they will go more direct.”