Sheffield Wednesday: Hooper hails Forestieri despite scoring rivalry

Gary Hooper celebrates his goal at Nottingham Forest with the returning Fernando Forestieri
Gary Hooper celebrates his goal at Nottingham Forest with the returning Fernando Forestieri
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It is more than mere coincidence that Sheffield Wednesday rediscovered their scoring touch when Fernando Forestieri returned to the side.

For three of the four games prior to Saturday’s trip to Nottingham Forest, the forward was banned after two rather controversial double-booking dismissals.

In that time Wednesday failed to win and, perhaps more tellingly, failed to score in the latter three matches.

Forestieri returned at Forest and helped Wednesday to a 3-0 triumph.

It was not all down to him. Wednesday turned in a magnificent team performance to play their hosts off the park.

But his energy, relentless pressing and superb vision played a major role in the return of the impressive attacking side of the Owls’ game.

It was a contribution not lost on fellow forward Gary Hooper.

“Fernando put in a real shift, certainly for the two goals,” said Hooper, who grabbed his first goal in six matches on Saturday.

“I think we did miss him and it showed in what was a nice win.

“He’s the top scorer so you are going to miss him when he is not there.

“It’s clear in a way, although we still kept clean sheets and had a fair few draws when he was suspended.

“We just didn’t take our chances in that time but we did on Saturday.”

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Forestieri’s return sparked an improvement in Hooper who had appeared off colour in recent weeks.

The presence of the former Italy U21 international allowed Hooper to remain much higher up the pitch rather than dropping deep to attempt to influence play.

And Hooper believes the pair have an excellent understanding.

He said: “Me and him work really well.

“We know when to press and when not to.

“It showed in the first two goals.

“We work together very well.”

Hooper’s goal on Saturday took him to 11, one behind top scorer Forestieri.

While insisting the identity of each goalscorer does not matter, Hooper admitted he would like to overtake Forestieri at the top of the scoring charts.

He said: “I’ll try and get ahead of him but the main thing for us is winning games.

“As long as we win, me and Fernando are happy to keep going at it.”

Saturday’s game also saw the best performance so far from Everton loanee Aiden McGeady, who joined Hooper on the scoresheet.

“It’s nice for him to get out and play games,” Hooper said. “He took his finish well and played really well. He beat their right back quite a few times and it was a great performance from him.”