Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Why next season will be make-or-break for Marco Matias

Marco Matias's Owls career has been stop-start due to a raft of injuries
Marco Matias's Owls career has been stop-start due to a raft of injuries
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We have seen glimpses, albeit limited, of Marco Matias’s ability in the final third since his big money move to Hillsborough nearly three years ago.

His exquisite, spectacular volley in the Owls’ televised duel with local rivals Leeds United will particularly live long in the memory.

Owls forward Fernando Forestieri

Owls forward Fernando Forestieri

But Matias’s flashes of quality have been too far and between.

His Wednesday career has been stop-start, with a string of injuries restricting the former Portugal Under-21 international to just 16 starts in all competitions. Only time will tell whether he has eradicated his injury problems.

From the outside looking in, Matias looks a player that needs to feel loved and wanted to produce his best performances.

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Yet former boss Carlos Carvalhal appeared reluctant to turn to Matias even when he was fit and available for selection. Carvalhal largely used Matias as an impact substitute during his two-and-a-half-year reign. He never gave Matias an extended run in the side, which probably dented Matias’s confidence.

Under Carvalhal, Matias never had a settled position. One match Matias would play on the wing, the next shunted up front.

I remember when Carvalhal brought Matias in from the cold for their home clash with Hull City last season. Matias was deployed on the right wing in a 4-4-2 formation but struggled to make an impact and Carvalhal hauled him off at half-time.

Matias strikes me as someone who needs game time to get into a rhythm and build up his match sharpness.That didn’t materialise when Carvalhal was in charge but the 29-year-old has featured more at first-team level since Jos Luhukay’s arrival.

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Nevertheless, Matias has reached a crossroads in his Owls career and the next 12 months will determine whether his long-term future lies at S6 or elsewhere. Matias has one year left remaining on his contract so he must quickly demonstrate to Luhukay that he can play a big role in a promotion challenge.

There is no disputing that Fernando Forestieri, pictured left, represents Wednesday’s main attacking threat and without him the forward line can, at times, look a tad predictable. Pace is not something they possess an abundance of in attack but Matias is quick, direct and capable of a moment of magic.

But can he stay out of the treatment room and get a good pre-season under his belt? Can he stay fit long enough to make a difference?

It is time for Matias to deliver.

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