Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: There is no guarantee Fernando Forestieri will solve the Owls' attacking problems

Any team in the Championship would miss a fully-fit, fully-firing Fernando Forestieri.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 22nd December 2017, 4:55 am
Fernando Forestieri
Fernando Forestieri

He is a mercurial talent and remains a big miss for the Owls. Without him, Wednesday’s attack is short on pace and unpredictability.

Forestieri has been the Owls’ top-scorer in each of the past two campaigns. He is a proven matchwinner at this level so you can understand why under-pressure head coach Carlos Carvalhal hopes he is back in the fold in January following knee surgery.

Carvalhal said: “Fernando is one of the best players that I have managed in my career. He’s a fantastic player with fantastic abilities.”

When he is in the mood, Forestieri is capable of creating havoc in the final third and conjuring goals out of nothing.

But the reality is we haven’t seen Forestieri perform at a consistently high standard since his first season at the club when Wednesday over-achieved in reaching Wembley. On his day, Forestieri is unplayable but, for various different reasons, he has not been fully-fit and fully-firing. There have not been enough days where Forestieri has turned it on and swung a tight match the Owls’ way.

Had Wednesday decided to cash in on Forestieri in the last transfer window when Fulham expressed a strong interest in his services, it would have been hard to criticise the club.

Yet Forestieri is still an Owls player and he has continued his recovery from his knee operation away from the club, posting videos on social media showing him in Spain and more recently in Italy.

Big things will be expected of Forestieri when he finally makes his comeback. Carvalhal has acknowledged Wednesday’s forward department has lacked pace without the 27-year-old.

Carvalhal said: “If Fernando is 100 per cent fit, we will not talk about pace because in the first year we didn’t talk about pace.

“The second season more because he was injured towards the end of the season.

“When Fernando plays, it is completely different.”

The question is how long it is going to take Forestieri to get up to speed after major surgery. Carvalhal is optimistic he will be back training with the rest of the group next month but will he need a few Under-23 matches to build up his sharpness and fitness? What the club don’t want is to rush Forestieri back and for him to break down.

And perhaps the biggest issue of them all is where to field Forestieri, who has made it clear he would prefer to play in a striker role. His best performances in Owls colours, though, have arguably come when Carvalhal has utilised him on the left wing.

After their abject opening-day defeat to Preston North End, Carvalhal denied that Forestieri refused to play as a wide man. He claimed Forestieri was happy to play in any position but felt better suited and more comfortable in a striking role.

Forestieri would give the side extra creativity and energy but he won’t solve all their problems. In some ways, he may make the Wednesday puzzle even harder for Carvalhal to crack.