Sheffield Wednesday: Gary Hooper closing in on Owls return

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Gary Hooper has stepped up his comeback from a long-standing injury by rejoining his Sheffield Wednesday teammates in full training.

The striker has been laid low by a hip complaint since Boxing Day last year and has yet to feature under Jos Luhukay who replaced Carlos Carvalhal as manager in January.

Gary Hooper

Gary Hooper

Along with midfielders Kieran Lee and Almen Abdi, he is the only player unavailable for selection against Hull City on Saturday because of fitness issues, although centre-forward Atdhe Nuhiu will also miss out as he serves a one-man ban following his sending-off at Wigan Athletic last weekend.

Hooper scored 11 in 25 appearances for the Owls last term before lasting only 34 minutes of a 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest on December 26.

"Gary can train with the team (from last Monday)," Luhukay confirmed. "He is making a progression."

Lee - who, like Hooper, has been kept out of action since last year by a hip problem - is also moving in the right direction.

"Kieran is training individually," the boss added. "This week he is doing only runs. He is not with the team."

Luhukay wants Hooper to hone his fitness in under-23 games before considering him for a senior recall.

"There comes a time when he will be making minutes in games, first for U-23s. In the next few weeks we cannot play friendly games because from Saturday we are playing every third or fourth day.

"His practice must be in friendly games with the under-23s."

Abdi, who has played only twice in 2018, hasn't trained for three weeks after damaging his hamstring.

Lucas Joao, after impressing as a subsititute in the 3-2 defeat at the DW Stadium, is the likely replacement for Nuhiu as Wednesday open their Championship Hillsborough schedule against Hull.

The Tigers went down 3-1 at home to Aston Villa on Monday night.

For more news from Hillsborough click here