SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Owls give Mama helping hand

Serious injuries: Stoke striker Mamady Sidibe has not played a first-team game for two years
Serious injuries: Stoke striker Mamady Sidibe has not played a first-team game for two years
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Mamady Sidibe’s move to Hillsborough represents a big opportunity for a big man who is hoping to regain former heights.

The 6ft 4in centre-forward used to be an important member of a promotion-winning Stoke side.

But three serious injuries in two years left him contemplating retirement at one stage.

He has not played a first-team game since a 2-1 defeat for Stoke against Tottenham in August, 2010.

But he is now fit and the one-month loan deal with Wednesday gives the 32-year-old a chance to pick up the threads of his career.

He moves in to Hillsborough after a successful comeback: he played for 82 minutes and scored in an under-21 game against Spurs last weekend.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis said of the loan switch: “This is fantastic news for Mama, and everyone here wishes him well over the next few weeks at Hillsborough.

“It’s been a long, long road back and an incredibly tough time for him, but he’s now got an excellent chance to get out on a football pitch again and play for a top club at Championship level. I know he will be in good hands playing for Dave Jones.

“Mama deserves all the luck in the world after what he’s been through, but I am sure he will just be happy to get back to what he does best.”

Sidibe suffered two Achilles tendon injuries and one to his knee.

Stoke still offered him a new one-year contract in the summer. He said at the time: “Without the club helping me, I think I would completely stop. Probably I would retire. But Stoke has always treated me well and it’s a big boost to know I am going to be here.

“Probably people don’t expect me to be playing for the team but I will give my best and only God knows what will happen.”

After playing for Swansea and Gillingham, the Mali international as been at Stoke for seven years and contributed 33 appearances and four goals when the club went up from the Championship in 2007-08. He also had 46 outings in the Premier League, during the subsequent two seasons, before his injury problems began.

Sidibe has not been a really prolific scorer - he has hit 47 goals in 280 league and cup appearances plus 56 outings as a sub, for his three clubs.

But Wednesday are hoping his pedigree and experience will give them an extra edge up front during his month with them.

While Sidibe is no stranger to the Championship, fellow newcomer Jeremy Helan is stepping up to this level.

The 20-year-old’s only league experience has been on loan in League One with Carlisle, a year ago, when his two appearances for them were from the bench, and in the same division very recently with Shrewsbury, for whom he started three league games and one in the FA Cup, the last of them a 2-1 defeat at Leyton Orient on November 10.

He has made one appearance for Manchester City, as a sub in a 4-2 home defeat by Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup in September.

While Wednesday have felt compelled to make loan signings and are looking to end a run of three defeats, tomorrow’s opponents Leicester are looking to compensate for the loss of top scorer David Nugent and build on their first win in five games.

Jamie Vardy is not the only option for Nigel Pearson, for Marko Futacs went on as a sub against Ipswich and scored in that win.

Pearson said: “It is disappointing because he [Nugent] has been playing well and scoring goals, but it is just something we will have to deal with.

“Vardy hasn’t been knocking on my door but it is clearly a game he would like to play in. I think the timing of his return is very important for us because he does give us another option.

“Marko coming on and getting his first league goal was a bonus for us. He is young and still has a lot to learn, but he is not afraid of shooting. His opportunities have been limited but he is a player who does give us a different option.”

Teams and ref

OWLS (possible): Kirkland, Buxton, Taylor, Gardner, Helan, Mayor, McCabe, Semedo, Antonio, Bothroyd, Sidibe (4-4-2).

FOXES (possible): Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Whitbread, Konchesky, Knockaert, Drinkwater, King, Dyer, Vardy, Waghorn (4-4-2).

Paul Tierney (Lancashire): The man who sent off Gary Madine at Carlisle last season, but he also handled the Owls’ 1-0 win against Fulham in the FA Cup at Hillsborough this season, when Madine scored with a penalty. Has issued 31 yellow cards and two reds in 14 games.