Sheffield Wednesday: The midfield pair who the Owls have struggled to replace

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal claims it was always going to be hard to replace Sam Hutchinson and Kieran Lee in midfield.

Kieran Lee
Kieran Lee

Injuries have limited Hutchinson and Lee’s involvement this season.

Hutchinson has only made four appearances while Lee, pictured right, has started just 10 matches.

Defensive midfielder Hutchinson has described this campaign as “horrendous” and the worst he has had in almost four years with the Championship club.

After over two months out on the sidelines due to knee surgery, Hutchinson is pencilled in to start tomorrow’s Championship encounter with Middlesbrough.

Boss Carlos Carvalhal said: “Sam has trained very well in the last three weeks without pain.

“At this moment, we have a feeling that he is ready to play and we need to push him to play.

“We don’t have a substitute for Sam. We don’t have a player with the same abilities in the team as him.

“I’m very happy to recover Sam. His intensity and aggression will improve the team. By recovering one player, I believe we will be more aggressive.”

You have to go back to October 14 for the last time Hutchinson featured. He was a second half replacement in the Owls’ 2-1 defeat at struggling Bolton Wanderers. His bite and combative qualities have been missed in Wednesday’s slide down the table.

Carvalhal insists the Owls have previously tried to bring in a player with similar attributes to Hutchinson but said: “It is very difficult to bring a player in like him.

“Sam plays in the centre of the pitch and has played at centre-back. He can do a lot of things. He understands different positions and he has quality with and without the ball.”

As for Lee, the goal-scoring midfielder is set for another injury lay-off. The 29-year-old has visited a specialist, who has recommended he has minor hip surgery.

Carvalhal, who has not put a timescale on Lee’s return, said: “He will do a small surgery to correct something inside the hip. It is very disappointing. He is an important player.

“To substitute players like Kieran, it is very difficult. Again, the face of the team with tempo and intensity with him on the pitch improves the rhythm of the game.

“But Kieran is not available and we have other players and we must give confidence to them.

“We believe in all of the players. We have done a fantastic week of training. We must continue our work.”

Keiren Westwood (groin) is out of the Boro tussle, meaning Joe Wildsmith is likely to start for the second match running. With Morgan Fox serving a one-match suspension following his red card versus Wolves, Daniel Pudil is in line to play.

Barry Bannan (groin), Jack Hunt and Steven Fletcher (both knee) will all be assessed.