Sheffield Wednesday: Injured stars edge closer to Owls returns

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Head coach Carlos Carvalhal is relishing the prospect of welcoming back his injured Owls stars, claiming: “They will be like new players.”

Nine members of the Portuguese chief’s first-team squad missed Saturday’s deserved 1-0 win over Fulham.

Carlos Carvalhal, left, and Keiren Westwood

Carlos Carvalhal, left, and Keiren Westwood

Sam Hutchinson became the latest person to join their mounting injury list, pulling out of the Cottagers test after sustaining a knock in the warm up.

But Carvalhal, who is not anticipating a busy transfer window, says some players are close to returning to training.

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“It is very important we recover the players,” he told The Star. “Hopefully Tom Lees, Jack Hunt, Keiren Westwood, Michael Turner, Alex Lopez will join in with the rest of the group this week.

“When we recover them, Lewis McGugan, Sergiu Bus and Marco Matias, they will be like new players.

“I need all these players fit but we have shown we are a good team even without them. We have shown we are more than 11 players.

“We will be more strong when we have the full squad in one or two weeks. I feel full energy in my team.”

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Ross Wallace, Wednesday’s matchwinner in the capital, and striker Gary Hooper also passed late fitness tests because of calf and dead leg injuries respectively.

Wallace’s exquisite first half goal helped the Owls secure their third win on the road this season.

Three victories in their last four fixtures keeps Wednesday in seventh position, two points shy of Ipswich Town, who occupy the final play-off position.

Carvalhal said: “I am optimistic. I think we will get stronger when we have our full squad together. I didn’t want to say much before the game about injuries.

“They are ready to attack the second half of the season. We will be very strong.”

Having already beaten Fulham twice in the Championship, Wednesday lock horns with Slavisa Jokanovic’s team again in the FA Cup on Saturday.

In their last meeting at Hillsborough, Wallace starred, setting up all three of the home side’s goals in an entertaining contest.

Defender Richard Stearman says Fulham will be looking to make amends this weekend.

He said: “We want to win games as it breeds confidence and becomes a habit. They (Wednesday) have done the double on us this season in the league so we’ll be looking to go there and get a bit of revenge and progress in the cup.”

Stearman claimed Fulham defended much better against the Owls.

“We limited them to one worldie strike and Lonners [Andrew Lonergan] has pulled off one or two saves but in the main we’ve defended well,” he said. “They were hard to break down, they got into shape well and we just didn’t move the ball quick enough.”

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