Sheffield Wednesday: Owls sweat on the fitness of star striker

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Sheffield Wednesday are facing an anxious wait to find out the full extent of 11-goal top-scorer Gary Hooper’s hip injury.

The striker visited a specialist in London regarding his knock, which has sidelined him the last two matches. The Owls expect to discover the severity of Hooper’s injury today at the latest.

Striker Gary Hooper

Striker Gary Hooper

Caretaker boss Lee Bullen told The Star: “We are hoping he won’t need surgery but you can never say never.”

Fellow forward Steven Fletcher has also been ruled out of tomorrow’s FA Cup third round trip to Carlisle United.

“He’s been ill the last two or three days or he might have been back in training this week,” said Bullen. “He had a little bit of tonsillitis. We will see how he is after the weekend.

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“Hopefully by mid to end of next week he will be back in and get himself going.

“With the derby, is it a game or too early? Possibly but it just depends how he recovers. We will see how he recovers and how that knee is holding up.”

Defender Tom Lees (groin) and midfielder Barry Bannan (hip) face extended spells on the sidelines.

Bullen said: “Tom had a little bit of a setback last week. We thought he was going to be back in full training round about now but he over extended himself when he was doing something.

“He maybe knocked himself back about four weeks. We are hoping he will be another month or so if nothing else goes wrong.

“Baz is a hip issue. He has been out three weeks now and the initial prognosis was potentially six to eight weeks.

“He’s maybe twisted something and is looking at eight to 10 weeks. It has probably knocked him a couple of weeks which is not ideal.”

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Bullen has described the Owls’ well-documented injury list as “bizarre”. Eleven first-teamers, including Keiren Westwood, Kieran Lee and Fernando Forestieri, missed their woeful New Year Day’s loss to Burton Albion. But Glenn Loovens, Sam Hutchinson and George Boyd are expected to feature at Brunton Park as managerless Wednesday chase a morale-boosting victory.

“We are missing a lot of good players,” he said. “It’s making the load on the current players available a lot, lot heavier.

“It is not just about Gary Hooper, Baz or Westy. They are all quality players that are out but we have quality players available. They proved it at Forest but not so much in the last couple of matches. But we have still got experienced boys in that changing room. The 15 to 16 players we have got available have proved they can do it.”

He has promised to take the cup seriously, saying: “It’s another must-win game.

“We have to go relatively strong. Yes, there will be one or two players who have maybe on the fringes who might get a run-out but it will be a relatively strong team, with maybe a couple of youngsters on the bench.

“We are limited and we will go with hopefully a strongish team that we feel we can win the game.”

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