Full-back Jack Hunt says that he rediscovered his love for the beautiful game following a loan spell at today’s opponents Nottingham Forest.
Immediately after joining Crystal Palace in September 2013, Hunt broke his ankle and was out of action for five months.
Following his lengthy lay-off, he enjoyed a successful loan spell at Barnsley but the former Huddersfield Town player believes his temporary stint at Forest last season got his stalled career back on track.
The 24-year-old told The Star: “After such a bad injury at Palace and being put out on loan, Forest made me fall back in love with football and back to where I am today. I am really grateful to Forest and owe them a lot.”
However, there will no room for sentiment when Hunt lines up against his old club as the Owls look to maintain their impressive form.
“The manager has changed since I was there and they [Forest] are under a transfer embargo so it’s tough times for them,” admitted Hunt. “They are not playing very well at the moment and we are but anything can happen in the Championship. We will try and kick them while they are down.”
Hunt, on a season long-loan from Palace, has hailed boss Carlos Carvalhal, insisting the charismatic Portuguese’s meticulous attention to detail has transformed their fortunes.
He said: “The manager is very thorough. It’s a massive part of his belief. He goes into everything in such detail whether it is, no disrespect, Mansfield or Arsenal in the cup. He does the same no matter who we play.
“He is getting the best out of the players so long may that continue.”
Wednesday’s comprehensive cup win over Arsenal in midweek enhanced Carvalhal’s growing reputation even further.
“Carlos has got to take a lot of credit,” stressed Hunt. “He went into everything in great detail in training.
“He is a very tactical person so he set us up to get everybody back in our half and play on the counter attack.
“We watched videos of Arsenal when they lost to Olympiakos in the Champions League and we tried to replicate that and it worked.”
Carvalhal is a big believer in squad rotation. Every member of his squad, apart from Tom Lees, has been left out at some stage this season as the Portuguese seeks to keep his players fresh for a 10-month gruelling campaign.
“For me, when I got rotated from the Leeds game I found it very hard to take,” said Hunt. “I thought I started the season okay and I didn’t really expect to be out the team. It has taken some getting used to on a personal level and I think a few of the other guys.
“We all know that those are Carlos’s beliefs and fair play to him because he does stick to them.”
Hunt, who has featured 13 times this season, said helping the Owls beat the Gunners was one of the highlights of career but is calling on the team to stay focused.
He said: “Everybody is on a high from beating Arsenal so if we don’t go and beat Forest people will be thinking ‘how can you beat Arsenal and not Nottingham Forest’. But football doesn’t work like that unfortunately and we just have to keep going.
“The key to our success is working hard so we have to recover and go again on Saturday.”
“There is still more to come from the team,” he added. “We all want to be in the top six this year. Whether we do that or not or fall short, who knows. We will see what happens.
“We know there will be low points as well. It is just nice to have a nine-game unbeaten run and hopefully we can keep that going.”