Sheffield Wednesday: Hooper, Lee and Abdi? Not yet, says Owls boss Jos Luhukay
Sheffield Wednesday are delaying the comebacks of a trio of injured players until after the international break.
Striker Gary Hooper and midfielders Kieran Lee and Almen Abdi are in training after long-term absences but manager Jos Luhukay has decided against stepping up their returns during the two-week rest from Championship action.
None of the three were given an outing the under-23s'Â 0-0 draw at Coventry City on Monday and the boss says they won't be taking part in next week's U-23 home fixture with Colchester United.
Â Luhukay plans to play them in U-23 games after the break as a final step before considering them for his senior squad, with the September 17 clash at Leeds United a first possible date for their selection.
"We think after the international break about them coming to minutes with the U-23s and then we must see how they are progressing and developing," Luhukay said.
"The next step after that will be to come back to the team. They won't be ready for the first team straight after the international break."
Hooper and Lee haven't played since December because of hip injuries while Abdi, laid low by a hamstring complaint, last featured in April. Lee suffered a minor setback before last Saturday's 2-1 win at Reading lifted the Owls to 11th in the table.
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"They are not 100 per cent ready," Luhukay said. "Kieran in the last day has has a little bit of a problem. We must have patience."
Another injured man, centre-forward Sam Winnall, is progressing well after cruciate knee ligament surgery last February but is unlikely to be fully fit this month.
Hooper and Winnall will add to the attacking options of Luhukay who hasn't been afraid to mix and match up front this season. Atdhe Nuhiu, Lucas Joao and Marco Matias have been chosen for the last two league games, while Fernando Forestieri and Steven Fletcher have also had starts.
"We must be flexible and have variation in our team," the manager said. "We have quality in the offensive positions and totally different players.
"Opponents have to have a different focus if you play with Lucas or Atdhe, Fernando or Steven.Â
"We have a lot of different players with different skills. When you play at that high intensity (six games in 16 days), you need to make changes."