Sheffield Wednesday: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Josh Windass, Massimo Luongo and 'player before panic'

Some would have drafted them in a long, long time ago.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 7:14 am

But Darren Moore has preferred to stay patient when it comes to the recovery of his players despite times when, frankly, he could have done with a star turn or two to help alleviate the pressure of life outside the League One playoff places.

The return of Josh Windass and Massimo Luongo from long-term injuries have sparked an uptick in Wednesday form and results, and has inspired a notable change of attitude on the terraces when it comes to the prospect of promotion this season.

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So too the case of new face Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, brought in to train with the club several weeks ago. Moore organised a behind-closed-doors clash with a young Sheffield United XI to facilitate his journey to match sharpness, a game Windass played too on his road back.

Where, given results, other managers might have rushed a player of Mendez-Laing’s pedigree into the squad, or accelerated the return date of Windass and Luongo, Moore chose to sit tight and adhere to the advice of his medical team as to when best to reintroduce each man.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the manager for that,” Windass said recently. “A lot of managers don’t care about a player’s well-being they just care about their own results.

Sheffield Wednesday new boy Nathaniel Mendez-Laing made his debut in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Wycombe Wanderers.

“He didn’t push me at any point, he waited on what the medical staff have told him.

“He’s obviously respected the physio staff and the injury.”

Luongo looks back on the level of responsibility taken in his recovery equally fondly. This time last year he was rushed back to action for the struggling Owls at Huddersfield and aside from a fleeting comeback, missed the remainder of the season.

“It was a graft,” Luongo said. “I was working so hard getting back. I was saying ‘I feel good, put me in!’

“But you can’t do that with hamstring injuries, especially one as bad as mine. In the end we’ve all made the right decision.”

Both players have made an instant impact and look fit, strong and here to stay. And in just 23 minutes action on Saturday, Mendez-Laing looked ready to hit the ground running.

In a industry that requires instant results, Moore’s brave ‘people first’ policy looks set to pay off.