Boss Carlos Carvalhal has sent out a warning to Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion rivals, insisting the Owls will only get stronger in the second half of the Championship campaign.
Saturday’s controversial 1-0 victory over bottom-club Rotherham United lifted Carvalhal’s side back up to sixth after 22 matches.
But injuries to Almen Abdi and Kieran Lee took some of the shine off the derby success. The midfield duo were taken off against the Millers due to shoulder and hip problems respectively, joining the club’s lengthy absentees list.
Jack Hunt (illness), Barry Bannan (foot), Will Buckley (shoulder), Gary Hooper (hamstring) and the suspended Fernando Forestieri were all unavailable for selection at the weekend.
But Hunt and Bannan are expected to imminently return to the fold and Forestieri is in the frame to play in their next match - away to table-topping Newcastle United on Boxing Day - after completing a three-match suspension.
Carvalhal told The Star: “I believe in the future we will be better.
“At the moment, we are playing and winning with players missing.
“We did fantastic against Rotherham but in the future we will have more options.
“Jack Hunt will recover, Kieran Lee will recover, Barry Bannan will recover, Gary Hooper will be back.
“We will be more strong and better in the future.”
Striker Steven Fletcher’s penalty in added on time against the Millers clinched the Owls’ third consecutive home win.
And Carvalhal, who revealed Buckley has undergone shoulder surgery, said: “He’s an experienced player who has lived with these kind of situations in the past. He achieved the goal and it was very important to achieve points.
“We have won six points from the last two derbies so we are very happy. We broke down the Rotherham wall.”