Sheffield Wednesday: Gary Hooper wants to put one over his old pals at Norwich City
Striker Gary Hooper is relishing a return to his old club Norwich City tomorrow evening.
There is a strong possibility Hooper will lead Sheffield Wednesday’s attack when they take on the Canaries at Carrow Road, kick-off 5:30pm.
After leaving Scottish giants Celtic in 2013, Hooper went on to score 20 goals in 70 outings for Norwich.
Under ex-Canaries chief Chris Hughton, he bagged six goals in 32 top- flight appearances.
But the 28-year-old, captured for £5m, was frozen out under Alex Neil, featuring only twice as a substitute following their return to the top division of English football.
With first-team opportunities in short supply, Hooper opted to join the Owls on a temporary basis last October. Following a slow start to his Hillsborough career, he rediscovered his top form, prompting Wednesday’s hierarchy to sign him full-time in the New Year.
Hooper told The Star: “I always look forward to going back to my old clubs.
“It should be good at Norwich. I have stayed in touch with quite a few of the boys. We will probably speak before the game but there won’t be any sentiment on the day. Hopefully I can put one over them.”
Norwich, relegated from the top-flight last year, made a dream start to life in the second-tier, cruising to a 4-1 success over Blackburn Rovers last weekend. Jacob Murphy, Wes Hoolahan, Cameron Jerome and Steven Naismith all registered in their comprehensive away victory.
“Norwich is on the television and will be a hard game,” said Hooper, who is still aiming to get off the mark following two substitute appearances.
The 28-year-old admits it was a “big call” to leave Norwich but felt he needed to do go elsewhere in his quest for regular first-team football.
“I’m not sure what sort of reaction I’m going to get from the Norwich fans.
“The fans were good with me so hopefully I get a good reception.”
Hooper played a bit-part role under Neil and recognised he had no future at the club after being overlooked in Norwich’s Wembley victory over Middlesbrough in May 2015.
He said: “I knew then that I had to get out on loan. Alex Neil didn’t say I wasn’t going to play but he did buy a couple of strikers so the message was pretty clear. It wasn’t the best couple of years, but I don’t regret it.”
Hooper will be hoping he gets the nod to partner Fernando Forestieri up front. Head coach Carlos Carvalhal is spoilt for choice in the striking department. He also has Steven Fletcher, Lucas Joao, Atdhe Nuhiu and highly-rated youngster George Hirst who he can call upon.
Fletcher has returned to training, having recovered from a nasty looking head injury he picked up his debut. The large cut on his forehead required 10 stitches and he will need to wear some sort of head protection at Carrow Road.
“Steven is training normal,” said Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal at his pre-match press briefing yesterday. “He will have to wear some sort of protective headgear but he’s training.
“He did a test yesterday and he felt okay. He started today with a normal session with his colleagues.”
Wednesday have been boosted by the news that skipper Glenn Loovens has resumed light training following ankle surgery.
Carvalhal said: “Glenn is doing very well; he has had a fantastic recovery.
“I don’t want to put pressure on the medical department, or Glenn.
“What I can say is that he’s in a good way. When a player starts to run on the pitch, it means that he is not far away.
“All players are different, they recover differently. We will be happy when Glenn is back, he is probably the best captain of a team I have had.
“He’s a good personality, even if he is not present on the pitch, he is in the group.
“We care about him, that’s why we extended his contract last season.”