FIVE things we learned about Sheffield Wednesday 0 Derby County 0

Sheffield Wednesday fought out a 0-0 draw with promotion-chasing Derby County at Hillsborough on Sunday.

Sunday, 6th December 2015, 11:17 pm
Sam Hutchinson

Here are some things we learned from the game.

Sam Hutchinson is a highly competent stand in for Tom Lees

Lucas Joao

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His penchant for picking up a yellow card has now become a running joke but despite that, Sam Hutchinson is a fine footballer who showed his versatility on Sunday. The former Chelsea reserve was strong in the air and in the tackle (obviously) and he's quick, but he provided a different outlet to Wednesday too, as a player more comfortable on the ball than Tom Lees. That allowed the Owls to play out from the back more than they would usually. While Michael Turner may be back soon, I wouldn't be too worried about having Hutchinson stand in for as long as it takes

Lucas Joao isn't ready to be a regular starter

Carlos Carvalhal has managed Lucas Joao superbly. The young Portuguese has undoubted talent and played well in stages against Derby but like against Stoke, he wasn't as effective as when coming off the bench and there's a fair chance he'll be back there for the next game against Cardiff. Atdhe Nuhiu may not be everyone's cup of tea, but when he plays, defences know they are in a game. Joao has been at his best when taking advantage of war-weary defences who have been battling with the big Austrian for an hour and you get the feeling Carvalhal knows that.

Gary Hooper

Gary Hooper needs to start if he is to become the goalscorer Owls fans expected

It's a tough call this one. Hooper doesn't look sharp but that's because he hasn't had enough game time. He isn't getting enough game time because he isn't as sharp as those also vying for a place up front. A vicious circle. There's no doubting Hooper has ability and I believe given a run of games he will be back to his best. Carvalhal may have to give him that run and put up with a couple of average performances to allow the on-loan Norwich frontman to gain the match fitness he needs. That's quite a sacrifice to make though.

Wednesday have one of the hardest working midfields in the Championship

Derby County offered very little at Hillsborough and were hugely disappointing given the amount of talk there has been about them over the past couple of months. However to concentrate on that would be unfair on Wednesday whose midfield didn't allow the Rams to play. The Owls owned the middle of the park - Alex Lopez, Ross Wallace and Barry Bannan pressed and hassled and harried all afternoon and didn't give Derby the opportunity to get their creative players on the ball. Hence why they had so few opportunities on goal. The fact that Tom Ince was hooked early in the second half said it all.

Time to beat top six sides

You can try and play it down all you like but it's nearly Christmas and Wednesday are in seventh place (goal difference denies them the breakthrough) - that means they are officially a contender for a play off place. And while they have put in some impressive displays this season, Carvalhal's side are yet to beat any of the other teams pushing for promotion. Drawing with a disappointing Derby was a chance missed. While the plan is, as far as owner Dejphon Chansiri is concerned, to gain promotion by 2017, here they are in the hunt and they have the ability to stay there or thereabouts at least. Bearing Cardiff next week would represent a major step forward and they are capable of doing it.