Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: Let’s hope Steve Bruce’s root and branch review of the Owls’ injury problems pays off

Steve Bruce is absolutely right.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 11:33 am
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 11:38 am
Wednesday midfielder Sam Hutchinson
Wednesday midfielder Sam Hutchinson

It is ridiculous the number of injuries the Owls have picked up to key players in recent years. 

Since Bruce's Hull City team defeated Wednesday in the 2016 Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley, Keiren Westwood, Tom Lees, Sam Hutchinson, Kieran Lee, Steven Fletcher, Gary Hooper and Forestieri have all had lengthy spells on the sidelines after undergoing surgery.

Wednesday midfielder Sam Hutchinson

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Why do Wednesday seem to get more injuries than other clubs? Is it down to the quality of the pitches at the club's Middlewood Road training ground? Are the players over trained? Have some been rushed back into action too quickly (that was a criticism often levelled at former Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal)? Or is it just plain bad luck?

Nobody seems to know for sure.

There was a big shake-up of Wednesday's medical team after their play-off semi-final defeat to Huddersfield Town. The club parted company with physios Paul Smith, Stephen Gilpin and David Henderson and masseur Jake Tweedie and brought in three new physios.

Carvalhal blamed the injuries for their inconsistent performances and results but has the change had the desired effect? Has tweaking the backroom staff improved the situation? No, it has not worked, which perhaps suggests there is a more deep-rooted problem that needs to be resolved.

"It (the injuries) is something which I have to address," said Bruce, nominated for the February Championship manager of the month award. "I don’t know a club like it - with long-term injuries. You get one, but we have had four or five, which is not very good.

"The most important thing for me is getting the team to perform in a certain way, and get a result. But looking long-term, in the next few weeks and months, we have to ask why? It could be we have just been unlucky.

"But, certainly, when you see the amount of long-term injuries the club has had, over the last 18 months, it’s not good."

A raft of stars will be absent when Wednesday head to play-off chasing Derby County this weekend. The latest name to be added to their growing injury list is Fernando Forestieri, who suffered a recurrence of the hamstring problem which ruled him out earlier in the campaign.

Now Bruce’s attacking options are severely depleted heading into a crucial away double-header.

Although he has lifted the mood around the club, the Wednesday chief has vowed to conduct a root and branch review of their injury problems. 

“Big players being out is the reason I’m here,” admitted Bruce.

Let’s hope Bruce can succeed where others have failed.