Gary Hooper is ‘ticking along nicely’ as he nears Sheffield Wednesday first team return

Sheffield Wednesday’s Gary Hooper is set to play in a match behind closed doors this week as he nears a first team return.

Owls manager Steve Bruce confirmed that the striker, who has been sidelined with injury and without a first team appearance for over a year, could be in contention for a return after the international break.

Sheffield Wednesday's Gary Hooper.

Sheffield Wednesday's Gary Hooper.

Speaking to the Star, the Wednesday chief said that Hooper and Tottenham loanee Josh Onomah, faces a vital few weeks in his recovery as he looks to build up match fitness.

Bruce said: “We’re hoping that we can’t rule out Hooper either. He’s ticking along quite nicely at the moment. 

“It’s a big couple of weeks now for him, we’ve arranged a game behind closed doors here on Tuesday, for all the players that haven’t been playing at all. 

"All of a sudden the appearance of Winnall has given everybody a lift so of course Hooper, Josh Onomah and Lucas Joao – the more the merrier.”

Tuesday’s match is set to be played against Scunthorpe United at Wednesday’s Middlewood Road training complex, with one hour of match action the target for Hooper. 

The 31-year-old got a crucial 45 minutes under his belt in last week’s under-23s 5-1 win over Crystal Palace at Hillsborough and has impressed the Wednesday manager with his efforts in training.

“We’ve got two weeks where we’re looking,” Bruce said. “Whether that’s too early, we’ll see. But he has certainly trained over the last two or three weeks, and he’s done excellent. 

“He’s given himself a chance and at the moment, touch wood, there’s no reaction which is the most important thing he has done so far.

“At the moment in terms of game time, he hasn't played a lot but he is putting the mileage in with the training sessions he’s doing, so fingers crossed.”