Sheffield Wednesday: Steven Fletcher on injuries, the Owls’ academy and Reading

Steven Fletcher in action against his old club Wolves
Steven Fletcher in action against his old club Wolves

No wonder Steven Fletcher is a happy man.

After spending eight months on the sidelines through injury, the experienced forward is back doing what he loves...playing football.

Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher

Fletcher is yet to get off the mark in front of goal this season but he has made four starts and three substitute appearances since recovering from knee surgery.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, he said: "I feel good and I'm happy to be back playing. I feel fit and fresh which is always good.

"The gaffer has looked after me a little bit and I have been in and out of the team but I don't mind that just now because I'm still trying to get my full fitness and sharpness back."

There is no disputing the fact that Fletcher has endured his fair share of injury struggles since moving to Hillsborough in the summer of 2016.

Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher

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His major knee problem restricted the Scotland international to just 21 appearances last campaign. 

Fletcher said: "It was disappointing to be out so long but it (surgery) was one of those things that needed to be done.

"I had been playing for about a year before with it. I had played and played with it but just got to the point where it needed to be done.

Steven Fletcher in action against his old club Wolves

Steven Fletcher in action against his old club Wolves

"I had an ankle operation at Sunderland which kept me out a similar time but you can never be too careful with your knees. 

"The operation went well. I'm glad I got it done and there is no pain. It feels good."

With his injury troubles now a thing of the past, Fletcher feels in prime, physical condition, claiming he is in the best shape he has been in years.

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"It's as good as I have felt since I have been at the club and the best I have felt for a long time," he admitted. "Hopefully I can kick on and put the injuries behind me."

Fletcher took another giant step on the road to recovery in midweek. He spearheaded the Owls' attack in Tuesday's cup defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. His acrobatic second half strike was superbly kept out by John Ruddy as Wednesday lost on home soil for the first time this season.

"I thought we did well," said the 31-year-old. "We had a bit of youth and experience in the team.

"We defended well and created a few chances in the first half. We didn't have any clear cut ones but I thought we did well on the whole.

"Wolves are a good side and they showed the strength in depth they have got in their squad. They changed virtually all of their team.

"But the young lads did very well, especially Jack Lee in the middle of the park. It is not his main position but I thought he played very well. He was comfortable on the ball and Fraser Preston also did well. It was a good run-out for them."

Boss Jos Luhukay used the cup tie as an opportunity to blood more of the next generation, handing starts to academy graduates Ash Baker, Frederik Nielsen, Jack Lee and Fraser Preston. 

Fletcher said: "The academy is a big positive for us. Credit to the gaffer for bringing them through. They have all been at the club for a long time so they know the boys.

"Now they are getting their chance to impress and I think they have done, especially young Fraser, Connor Kirby and Jack Lee."

In recent weeks, Luhukay has called on his senior players to step up and take the pressure off his talented crop of youngsters. They answered his call in the home wins over Millwall and Ipswich Town.

"We are always passing on information to them if they ever ask us," said Fletcher. "Even if they don't, we still pass it on!

"I had that when I was young as well. I had a lot of experienced players around me at the time. They helped me so I'm just trying to help the academy boys now.

"If I can help them and push them forward in their careers, it is always a good sign."

Next up for Luhukay's team is a trip to lowly Reading in the final fixture before the first international break. Wednesday have yet to pick up a point on their travels, producing two error-strewn performances at Wigan Athletic and Brentford.

Fletcher said: "We have played two good teams away from home. Wigan and Brentford were tough games. You can never go away from home and expect to win in this league. It is too tight and we know Reading will be another tough game.”

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