Sheffield Wednesday: The hard work paying off for Owls favourite Nuhiu

Owls Atdhe Nuhiu scores the third goal
Owls Atdhe Nuhiu scores the third goal
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Crowd favourite Atdhe Nuhiu claims he is reaping the rewards of a gruelling pre-season following his impressive start to the 2014/15 season.

The big striker will be aiming to add to his three goals when Sheffield Wednesday head to Premier League new boys Burnley in the second round of the Capital One Cup tonight.

Nuhiu shed four kilograms in weight over the summer after rigidly following an intensive individual fitness programme given to him by the Owls’ backroom team.

He reported back on July 1 in good shape and took part in Wednesday’s five-day warm weather training camp in Slovenia. Nuhiu, recruited on a three-year contract in Juy 2013, registered in Wednesday’s friendlies with Bury and Doncaster Rovers and has maintained that form in the opening month of the new campaign, scoring against Notts County and a double in Saturday’s 3-2 triumph at Middlesbrough.

The giant forward told The Star: “Pre-season helped me a lot. I didn’t have it last season.

“I started very strong and then I had a dip. It was not because I wanted to but my legs and body sometimes said no as I wasn’t strong enough. It was the first time in my career I didn’t have a pre-season so I learned from that.”

Former Austrian Under-21 international Nuhiu has bagged seven goals in his last 10 Wednesday outings. Since the turn of the year, he feels he has adapted to the English game and is enjoying working with Owls boss Stuart Gray.

“Stuart knows exactly what my strengths are,” he said. “He gives me freedom in games because he doesn’t want to change me.”

Feeling stronger and fitter than at any stage in his Wednesday career, Nuhiu is pleased to be finding the back of the net on a consistent basis but insists he is more focused on helping the team be successful.

He stressed: “As long as we are winning games, I’m happy. If I can score goals on top of that, I am more than happy.”

“I am feeling confident, of course,” added Nuhiu. “But the manager and the team make me feel confident and very good. I am not from England and this is different and everyone needs to adapt. Not just me, but players in big teams in the Premier League.”

Nuhiu has thanked Owls wingers Jacques Maghoma and Chris Maguire for supplying him with regular service.

He said: “The work from Jacques [Maghoma] and Chris [Maguire] has been fantastic. Even if I score, it’s down team work. Without them, I wouldn’t score. That’s why I really appreciate what they are doing.”

Nearly 2,000 Wednesday fans made the trip to Middlesbrough last weekend while more than 1,000 are expected to cheer on the team at Turf Moor tonight.

Nuhiu, who is targeting a top-10 finish in the Championship, said: “I’ve got a good rapport with the fans. I thank them a lot for travelling to Middlesbrough and supporting us. The back the team in their thousands home and away, week in week out.

“Everyone can see we are close together as fans and players. We are like one team. I’m happy to see what’s happening this season.”

Fresh from scoring his maiden Owls goal, striker Stevie May, meanwhile, has been included in the Scotland Under-21 squad for next month’s European Championship qualifiers away to Slovakia and Luxembourg. Billy Stark’s side travel to Slovakia and Luxembourg on September 4 and September 8 respectively.