Alan Biggs at Large: Could this ‘misfit’ Sheffield Wednesday striker make an impact on Owls’ resurgent season?

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Jos Luhukay may be hard to read but his sense of anticipation about Sam Winnall’s imminent comeback is written large, even across those inscrutable features.

Of course, we should not expect an immediate impact from a player nearing a return eight months after major knee surgery. Yet something tells me Winnall could add something significant to Sheffield Wednesday’s resurgent season.

Goals, in a word ... but it runs deeper. 

Winnall proved a misfit after arriving at Hillsborough in January, 2017, following prolific spells at Scunthorpe and Barnsley.

The suspicion, which I believe to hold much truth, is that he was signed mainly as a lever to land another then Barnsley player, Conor Hourihane, who was Carlos Carvalhal’s main target.

This proved a miscalculation. Barnsley dug in on Hourihane, who was sold to Aston Villa instead after a backlash from fans over parting with Winnall to a big brother neighbour.

Jos Luhukay

Jos Luhukay

The 27-year-old was then further compromised by Wednesday landing Jordan Rhodes as their new main man up front in what has proved, so far, to be an ill-fated club record deal.

Winnall subsequently had sporadic run-outs in various roles without really being trusted in any.

He hit just four goals in 18 appearances and yet his stature as a marksman is undiminished. In total, Winnall has amassed 90 career goals in 237 appearances (52 of those as a substitute).

That is some ratio - including his six in six starts on loan at Derby before his injury.

Owls striker Sam Winnall

Owls striker Sam Winnall

No wonder Luhukay is keen to involve him. Further, I think the system mainly favoured by the Owls boss this season could suit both men.

Luhukay tends to go for a forward three, with raiders either side of a big target man, Steven Fletcher or Atdhe Nuhiu.

Winnall is not built for the central role and is more of a predator. He plays well wider, showing skill and a turn of speed.

This may not be his preferred position but the game is changing from the days of the orthodox 4-4-2 with a big ‘un and a smaller nippier guy up front.

Winnall has the parts to his game to adjust - and compete with the likes of Fernando Forestieri, Lucas Joao and Marco Matias (when fit) for the off-centre roles.

It’s yet another pointer to a healthier outlook at Hillsborough with Wednesday hitting the international break at sixth in the Championship after only one defeat in nine games.

Much credit again to Luhukay who, after more questioning of his unguessable selection and tactics (including from this writer), came up with a winning formula at Bristol City last weekend.

Winnall’s availability will make Luhukay even harder to second-guess - but it also stands to add extra potency.