Sheffield Wednesday: Never a doubt in fit-again Forestieri’s mind

Fernando Forestieri
Fernando Forestieri
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Don’t trust everything you read on social media.

A little over a month ago, Wednesdayites feared Fernando Forestieri’s season was over.

So-called ‘in the know’ people online claimed the little Argentinian suffered cruciate knee ligament damage against Burton Albion. Some suggested we would not see Forestieri gracing the hallowed Hillsborough turf again this season.

Concerns over Forestieri’s physical condition grew when he headed to Spain to get a second opinion on his knee shortly before the Aston Villa fixture.

But Forestieri knew what he was doing and the decision proved a masterstroke.

Forestieri continued his rehabilitation in Spain, receiving treatment from a physio who he met and worked with for years at Watford.

“He helped me a lot mentally and physically,” said Forestieri.

“I worked hard with him. I’m so happy to be back.

“I want to thank him and all the staff in Sheffield for their support.”

Despite all the speculation, Forestieri himself never doubted he would quickly return to action.

He said: “When I spoke with the physio, he was always positive. I don’t know why everyone was saying my season was finished.

“I was always positive I would come back strong and help the team.”

Help the team Forestieri duly did against Cardiff City on Good Friday. The 27-year-old, making his first appearance in six outings, came off the bench to bag a late winner versus the Bluebirds. He dived to head home from 12 yards after fellow substitute Jordan Rhodes had been denied by the agility of Allan McGregor.

“It was a special goal for me because I have worked so hard this month,” said Forestieri.

“I want to thank all the staff and the fans for their support.”

The former Italy Under-21 international insists his knee “feels good” but admitted: “I’m not 100 per cent because I haven’t played for three to four weeks.

“All I want to do now is help the team. That is the most important thing. If I go on the bench or start, it doesn’t matter.

“We need to win our last four matches. I’ve come back to help Carlos [Carvalhal], the team and that’s it.”

Victory over Neil Warnock’s Cardiff side maintained the Owls’ two-point play-off advantage over Fulham, who also triumphed last week.

Forestieri said: “It was an important win. We needed the three points.

“We played well in the first half. We knew Cardiff would make things difficult but the three points were the most important thing.”

The race for a top-six finish looks set to go down to the wire but Wednesday are in control of their own fate. They entertain nearest rivals Fulham on the final day.

But 12-goal top scorer Forestieri is urging his teammates to concentrate on doing the business themselves.

“We need to focus on ourselves,” he said. “Let’s see how many points we can get.

“We just need to listen to what Carlos wants. If we do what Carlos wants, we will do well. We don’t need to look at Fulham or the other teams around us.”

Next up for Wednesday is a trip to Queens Park Rangers, who currently sit in 17th position after a four-match losing streak, today in the second instalment of their Easter programme.

“We want to be in the play-offs; we need to be at our best. But we feel positive and I think we are playing well,” said Forestieri, who is in contention to start at Loftus Road following his cameo versus Cardiff. “We just need to focus on ourselves.

“Everybody needs to focus 100 per cent.”

Head coach Carvalhal praised the impact his substitutes made in their hard-fought win over Cardiff.

He said: “I am very happy because the players that we moved - Forestieri and Jordan were involved in the goal.

“Atdhe Nuhiu was very important. People maybe ask why you put Nuhiu on and there was your answer. In these types of games you need a tall guy to try to keep the ball if you are winning and also try to score of course and also to defend in the last minutes because we expect then that the game will be like that.

“We are learning about the competition.

“This season, it is not easy for others teams to surprise us, especially teams that play like this because we are more ready.”

Nuhiu was preferred on the bench to forward Sam Winnall, who could be involved today.

“We can’t involve all the players; we must make decisions,” said Carvalhal. “When we have 11 and 18 we must preview what will happen, if we are winning, if we are losing what can happen.”

Carvalhal may rotate his forward line at QPR after admitting Gary Hooper and Steven Fletcher looked tired in their last outing.

He said: “Fletcher and Gary Hooper didn’t play with full energy.

“Gary and Fletcher weren’t fresh like the last game which is why they were substituted. This is normal.

“So Monday or Saturday the level will improve and they will get better and better.

“I must manage the players very well like Fernando and Gary. It is a challenge to my staff and I.”

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