Steven Fletcher says he feels the aches and pains of being a professional footballer more than he has ever done, but you wouldn’t know that based on his standout performance against Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
The 31-year-old didn’t show any signs of slowing down as he galloped through the heart of the Latics defence and curled a luscious finish past Jamie Jones to secure all three points for the home side at Hillsborough.
Fletcher’s return to form, and fitness, is much needed in a Wednesday side that has been lacking attacking options and creative outlets this season.
With five goals and four assists in 28 matches, the striker is the Owls’ third best source for goals this term behind Adam Reach and Lucas Joao.
But even that tally isn’t enough to satisfy the hungry forward.
He told the Star: “It can always be better. I feel like I have played a lot more games than I have in recent seasons which has been good for me.
“I’ve been injury free which, after the operation, I’ve not had any pain at all.
“The knee is fine, no problems whatsoever. I probably should have got the surgery sooner than I did actually but that’s just me I want to go out and play football rather than go under the knife but it got to a point where I had to.
“It’s just old creaks and stuff creeping in now. Obviously I’d like to score more goals and create more chances, then I can take them.”
Fletcher’s best ever goal tally for a season is eleven goals, which he achieved in his first season at Hillsborough, as well as during spells with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Hibernian.
But the 33-cap Scottish international believes playing in the second tier brings its own challenges, particularly its physical demands on an Owls squad that has been plagued by injury in the last two seasons.
“I don’t look as old as I feel, I’ve played for a long time. The Championship is a demanding league and week in week out so you do feel it. I think I feel it now more than I ever have done,” he said.
“We do have a lot of quality sitting in the physio room and it’s frustrating but I’ve sat in there myself as well and it doesn’t really help to judge that.
“Injuries are part and parcel of football but it doesn’t help that it affected a lot of forward thinking players. We’ve got a lot of quality in the team and one or two young lads coming through as well with young legs. I could do with those young legs.
“That’s why Steve Bruce has taken the job because he sees the squad we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of quality here and I think we can do good things.”