Why Barry Bannan and Sam Hutchinson provide such a big boost to Sheffield Wednesday
In the two-and-a- half years that they have been team mates, Barry Bannan and Sam Hutchinson have played fewer games together than Wednesday fans would have liked.
And while, the former replaced the latter in Saturday’s Yorkshire derby win for the Owls over Leeds United, the fact that both are finally fit and available will raise a smile amongst supporters.
The pair have started in the same side just 51 times since Bannan joined in the summer of 2015/16 but when that happens, Wednesday don’t lose anywhere near as often. The stats show that Wednesday have a win rate of 43% when Bannan and Hutchinson start together, and lose just 23%.
With just eight games of remaining and a lingering threat of relegation - in Hutchinson’s opinion anyway - the comeback is timely.
And it’s not just those two who are lifting the mood.
With an injury crisis decimating Wednesday’s squad this season, key players are slowly making their way back. Tom Lees recently returned and there are high hopes that a couple more may be available to Jos Luhukay by the time the team get back to action against Preston. Keiren Westwood is close to a comeback; Fernando Forestieri isn’t far off and Joost van Aken will more than likely be in the squad for the visit of Alex Neil’s side.
Hutchinson recognises the positivity that new faces bring to a group that has been through the mill over the past few months.
“It does a lot for (the squad), coming back into the group that is a little bit low on confidence is quite good because we are like new players.
“We have missed all the bad form which is not nice to say. I don’t really struggle with confidence so I’m alright but as much as you can give to the players, just a freshness around the group.
“The boys have been brilliant. It’s been a hard season, there’s been loads of stuff going on.
“I feel sorry for all the players, people have said stuff in the press or the fans have said stuff but the players have always given 100% at this club and no matter what everyone says, be it bad performances or not, they have put it in. I have seen it day-in, day-out, the players just get on with it.”
He added: “It’s just more players to the squad and brings more competition so you see everyone get a lift that way. I can’t say if it gives a lift to the boys but it’s a good atmosphere at the moment an fingers crossed we can build on this.”