Sheffield Wednesday: How does Carlos Carvalhal solve a problem like Almen Abdi?

When Carlos Carvalhal said at the beginning of the season that big money signing Almen Abdi would have to battle for a place in the team, few of us realised just how difficult that fight would be.

Thursday, 13th October 2016, 9:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 5:53 pm
Almen Abdi, in action against Norwich City, one of just two games in which he has completed a full 90 minutes

“Almen must fight to play but it is not a problem to him. He is a clever player. It is very easy for him to understand exactly what we want. He’s a team worker and we appreciate these kind of players.”

That was Carvalhal in August and despite those words of warning, the man Wednesday paid Watford £4m for started the first two games, against Aston Villa and Norwich City.

Owls Almen Abdi beats Citys Jonathan Spector...Pic Steve Ellis

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Owls head coach has since then been left facing a conundrum. Abdi insisted when he joined that he was looking forward to playing in the middle, having been pushed out onto the flanks at Watford, into a position he doesn’t seem comfortable with. That’s been apparent at Wednesday, where when starting on the right the Swiss international became virtually anonymous.

Those of us who watched footage or saw him play at the Hornets know exactly what he is capable of, but there is a danger at present that he could become an expensive substitute.

Does Carvalhal persevere and hope he gets better as a right midfielder?

Owls Almen Abdi beats Ross McCormack

It would appear as though that is not going to get the best out of the player and his confidence could suffer as a consequence.

In his last six appearances, he has either been a substitute or been substituted, two of those starts, against Burton and Leeds seeing the midfielder hooked at half time. It is not what Wednesday fans expected of a player who Watford fans appeared genuinely sad to see leave in the summer.

So the other option is dropping Barry Bannan or Kieran Lee, which neither would deserve.

Owls Almen Abdi beats Citys Jonathan Spector...Pic Steve Ellis

It will be interesting to see how Carvalhal deals with this particular managerial challenge. His work in the transfer market has been good. The Portuguese won’t want that copybook blotted.

Owls Almen Abdi beats Ross McCormack