Head coach Carlos Carvalhal has defended his decision to play Sam Hutchinson in a midfield role in the hard-earned draw at Fulham.
The Owls chief opted to move Hutchinson, one of their standout performers this campaign, from central defence into the middle of the park against the in-form Cottagers.
It is not an unfamiliar position for Hutchinson, who was mainly deployed in the centre last season. He played a key part in Wednesday reaching the Championship Play-off Final.
There have been periods this time around where the Owls have missed Hutchinson’s aggression and physical presence in midfield and some observers had been calling for Carvalhal to make the switch far sooner.
“We analysed the game and felt that we needed Sam’s energy in the middle,” Carvalhal told The Star. “He did exactly what we expected.
“Sam played very well and gave the team a lot of energy.
“He is a very important player for us whether he plays in defence or midfield. He can play at full-back as well.
“When he plays, he performs very well.”
Ex-Chelsea youngster Hutchinson put in a typically committed, hard-working performance in his first midfield run-out this term. Stationed in front of the back four, he disrupted Fulham’s forward forays and kept things simple in possession.
However, Carvalhal felt he had no choice but to take Hutchinson off before the hour mark as he feared the 27-year-old was in danger of picking up a second yellow card. Hutchinson, who was cautioned 14 times last season, had already been booked for bringing down Stefan Johansen in the first half.
Carvalhal admitted: “I took Sam off as he was on a yellow card. The referee had alerted him. We didn’t want to take any risks. If we had played with 10 players, we probably would have lost the game so we protected the player and the team.”
With Daniel Pudil unfit to travel, Carvalhal elected to field Adam Reach at left-back again.
“Adam did well but so did all the team,” said Carvalhal. “The defence was very solid, the midfield was compact and the attackers worked hard. We played with quality.”
Urby Emanuelson and Almen Abdi were not included in the matchday squad and Carvalhal stated: “It was my options. I must choose the players to help the team.”