Owls in Portugal: Sheffield Wednesday sweat it out in intensive Algarve tour

Barry Bannan and Liam Palmer take a well-earned rest from training
Barry Bannan and Liam Palmer take a well-earned rest from training
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Carlos Carvalhal is ready for the Championship marathon again - and his players nearly are too after their intense five-day training camp in his homeland.

Wednesday’s mini-break to Portugal has not been a jolly. The team haven’t had their flip-flops on and been topping up their tans in the Algarve.

Felipe Melo

Felipe Melo

With temperatures in the high 30s, the squad have been training twice a day.

But Carvalhal’s men will leave Portugal today in better shape than when they arrived. His side are fitter and their pattern of play is slowly coming together.

As a training exercise, it couldn’t have gone much better.

The Owls boss said: “We have lived 24 hours together like a family. We have created a very good atmosphere.

“When the time has come for the team to work, they have done absolutely fantastic.

“The players have trained very hard and I have been happy with their attitude.

“They are great professionals. It is amazing the way they work.”

New additions Jake Kean and Steven Fletcher have blended in well into the group. It will have done Fletcher a power of good scoring a couple of goals as part of the trip. It is early days but he already looks to have formed a promising partnership with Gary Hooper.

Wednesday thrashed Portuguese top-tier side Nacional on Sunday, playing some lovely free-flowing football.

Although the Owls didn’t get the result they wanted last night, going down 3-2 in a training match with Portimonense, it was a still good test for the club’s youngsters. Carvalhal gave run-outs to Sean Clare, Connor O’Grady, Jack Stobbs, George Hirst and Jack Lee.

“We wanted to give experience to them,” he said.

After falling 3-0 behind, Wednesday hit back with two late goals from Fernando Forestieri and Fletcher. Forestieri’s strike took his tally to four goals in his four pre-season appearances. He looks in great touch.

But the Portimonense test exposed the Owls’ defensive frailties and Carvalhal is acutely aware his defence needs more depth and quality.

“We lost a lot of loan players last year; we will receive new players,” added Carvalhal.

Overall, though, the positives far outweighed the negatives.

n Owls side v Portimonense: Kean (Dawson HT); Vermijl (Palmer HT), Semedo, O’Grady, Helan; Stobbs (Lee HT), Clare, Melo, Joao (Forestieri HT); Hooper (Fletcher HT) Nuhiu (Hirst 76).