It does feel like Spring. The clocks have gone forward and no more dark winter evenings, shivering under floodlights. The flowers are starting to bloom, and the air is getting warmer and fresher. Doesn’t it feel nice?
There’s a spring-like air at the Middlewood training ground as well. Tom Lees gave a very interesting insight into how long-term injured players are making a phased return back into the first team. Lees trained on his own, played for the Under 23’s and only when everyone was satisfied, was he considered for reintegration into the first team.
The blatant finger pointing at Carvalhal’s method of “one or two sessions and you’re back in,” has cost us dearly this season. It’s good to hear that patience is becoming a virtue when it comes to the health of our players.
Lees’ also said it’s making the players hungrier because they’re champing at the bit to get back on the pitch. Nothing indicates this more than Fernando Forestieri’s return to the Under 23’s this week. His first contribution was to try and score from the kick-off. That kind of enthusiasm would be more than welcome in our league games.
Forestieri, Hutchinson, Bannan and Westwood are getting there. They might be fit, but as Tom Lees said in his interview this week, it’s not just fitness that counts. Conditioning and sharpness need to be developed again to get them back to their peak.
It’s unlikely we’ll see Fernando against Preston. He tired easily in the Under 23’s match. Another development game and Wednesdayites could be cheering him on to the pitch against Fulham.
It’s a shame that their full fitness will come too late to make an impact this season. Forestieri has also started to lower fans’ expectations for next term. He believes The Owls’ goal for next season should be just Championship survival. Nothing more, nothing less.
If there is a shift in mindset at the club, a fresh way of thinking, then it can only be a good thing.