Sheffield Wednesday: Why Gary Hooper is the man to get Owls firing again
Sheffield Wednesday's lack of goals of late, and indeed throughout this campaign, has been a huge source of frustration to fans and coaches alike.
Chances are being created, however 28 from 25 Championship games this season is a poor return for a team that has so much firepower within its ranks.
What hasn’t helped matters in recent weeks has been the injury to striker Gary Hooper.
The former Celtic and Norwich City frontman scored 16 goals in 2o16 for Wednesday but his all-round game had been hugely impressive up until damaging his hamstring in the 1-1 draw with Fulham in November.
With Fernando Forestieri suspended in that period and struggling with an injury, plus Steven Fletcher and Lucas Joao failing to really fire in front of goal, Hooper’s absence has been keenly felt.
On the positive side, Carlos Carvalhal revealed this week that the 28 year-old should be just a couple of weeks away from a return to first team contention and according to Barry Bannan, off the back of a couple of poor displays against Preston and Wolves, Hooper’s recovery will provide the Owls with a huge boost.
“It is positive we’ve got Hoops coming back and Callum is here,” said the midfielder.
“It will keep everybody on their toes and the team will strengthen over the next few weeks.
Bannan added: “Hoops is a natural goal-scorer and he could have been the difference against Wolves where it was 0-0 and he could have got one chance and scored it as that’s what he does.
“We are looking forward to getting him back to help the other strikers.”
Another player Bannan is looking forward to seeing more of is new signing Callum McManaman. The winger, signed on loan from West Brom, made his Owls debut on Monday, lasting 53 minutes before being replaced.
Having not played too much this season, McManaman was clearly feeling the effects but he did show fleeting signs of a player who could make an impact.
“He showed against Wolves that he’s going to be a big player for us,” said Bannan. “He’s more of an out-and-out winger than we have got at the club. He’s different to our other wingers. We’ve got a little bit of everything at the club. He’s going to be a great addition to the squad and we look forward to him getting 100% and bringing what we know he can bring.”