Sheffield Wednesday: The man to lead Owls revival

Gary Hooper is congratulated by Atdhe Nuhiu after his second goal against Hull
Gary Hooper is congratulated by Atdhe Nuhiu after his second goal against Hull
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If the Owls are to reignite their faltering promotion push, Gary Hooper could be the man to spark a revival.

The striker is in excellent form.

Gary Hooper

Gary Hooper

His injury troubles are a thing of the past and he is full of confidence, having notched 11 goals in 21 appearances this season. There is just no stopping him right now.

Hooper’s importance to this side should not be downplayed. He has created or scored nearly half of Wednesday’s 25 Championship goals. Without him, the play-offs would be long one.

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Not only is Hooper hugely influential with his clever link up play, he is deadly in front of goal. The 29-year-old showed his devastating, unerring finishing in Saturday’s 2-2 draw to struggling Hull City.

“Gary is one of the best finishes in the league; without a shadow of a doubt,” Owls forward Atdhe Nuhiu told The Star.

“Gary is going to be vital for us.

“Gary is comfortable and he likes it here. He will always score goals if you provide chances for him.

“Gary is always alive in the box when someone gives him the ball.”

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Nuhiu, a second half replacement, was a good foil for Hooper. It was his intelligent knockdown which enabled Hooper to rifle in his and Wednesday’s second.

Nuhiu said: “I think Gary and I understood each other brilliantly. Even for the second goal, I knew I was going to win that ball. One hundred per cent.

“We have seen this partnership with Gary and myself a long time ago. We saw it in the first year when Carlos [Carvalhal] came and we got to the play-off final. We played well together.

“Not everybody can be like Gary. Not everybody can be like me. It’s a team game and you need someone to play to my strengths and someone to play to his.”

Hooper, the Owls’ leading marksman, returns to his old club Norwich City tomorrow night looking to lead Carvalhal’s team to a first victory in five outings.

Hooper spent over two years in East Anglia before joining Wednesday on loan in October 2015. His fruitful stint at Hillsborough persuaded the Owls’ hierarchy to shell out £3m for his services in January 2016. It has proven money well spent.

Hooper led the line on Wednesday’s last trip to Carrow Road. He was given a warm reception by the Norwich faithful as it finished goalless.

In an interview with this newspaper building up to last year’s clash, Hooper said: “I always look forward to going back to my old clubs.

“It should be good at Norwich. I have stayed in touch with quite a few of the boys. We will speak before the game but there won’t be any sentiment on the day.”

It will be business as usual for Hooper and the Owls tomorrow evening. Draws are killing their prospects of a top-six finish.

If Wednesday are to collect three much-needed points at Norwich, the chances are they will need Hooper to be at his brilliant best.

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