Sheffield Wednesday: The curious case of Sam Hutchinson
It was one of the burning questions after Sheffield Wednesday's most recent defeat.
How far away is Sam Hutchinson from staking a claim for a place in the Owls' first-team?
The tough-tackling midfielder resumed full training at the beginning of the month, having recovered from a groin problem.
Hutchinson, who has not played since the 2-0 Carabao Cup defeat at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers in August, topped up his fitness levels by featuring for Wednesday's development squad earlier this month. The former Chelsea youngster completed over an hour of the Under-23s victory against Crewe Alexandra on October 12.
Despite Hutchinson's second-string run-out, boss Jos Luhukay has continued not to consider him for selection. He was overlooked for the Owls' three Championship defeats to Middlesbrough, Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City since the team returned to action following the international break.
Luhukay refused to shed any light on Hutchinson's situation when quizzed by The Star after Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Blues.
"I have learned in all my years that you must not speak about players who are not there (after a game)," said Luhukay.
"We can speak a long time about the game and about the players who played but I think it is the best way to look now to the players (who played) and how we can help them and we will see how they are go on in the next game."
Hutchinson has only made four starts this season.
There was no place for Hutchinson, George Boyd, David Jones or Almen Abdi in the matchday squad at St Andrew's as Wednesday let slip a one-goal lead.
Luhukay named six academy players on the substitutes bench, including 17-year-old midfielder Liam Shaw.
Luhukay dismissed the notion that Wednesday required more experience on the bench, saying: Â "We had on the field a lot of experienced players who have played a long time in the Premier League and the Championship. You must have a good mix and we have that.
"But now in one week we do not have the results that we like so it is normal you ask these questions.
"I know now in the next days that not everything is positive. Everything is now negative.
"But we must give the confidence and trust back to the team. We must help each other.
"I think we must not lie at the bottom. We must together up and fight for a new positive result next Saturday."