The stats that show Sheffield Wednesday's Connor Wickham can thrive in new role

It’s been a challenging few months for Sheffield Wednesday man-of-the-hour Connor Wickham.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 5:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 8:02 pm

The Owls loanee, sent to South Yorkshire by parent club Crystal Palace in search of minutes, goals and confidence, was bereft of all three in the period leading into Saturday’s season restart and had looked an imitation of the young prospect who belted nine goals in 17 games across two loan spells at Hillsborough seven years ago.

In Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest the 27-year-old looked leaner, fitter, meaner and more confident in what was an encouraging display and while not everything went his way across the 90 minutes, his injury-time equaliser was a just reward for a hard-working outing.

A look at the stats support the eyetest, too. Wickham had gone an incredible 181 minutes without taking a shot before his 36th-minute effort led to a penalty shout for handball.

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All smiles after an equalising goal from Owls Connor Wickham. Pic Steve Ellis

The headed goal was his fifth and final effort of the day – in seven previous confidence-shot outings he had taken only eight shots in total.

His heatmap shows Wickham had took up positions rarely ventured before the break. Fitter and visibly more mobile, he released two crosses on an afternoon that saw Wednesday exploit the space ahead of their wing-backs, at times overloading the flanks, to good effect.

Used solely as a target man rarely seen outside of the box previously, he peeled off to work nicely with Kadeem Harris down the left, his favoured left foot and asset in wide positions. Several times his dropped in to offer outlets for those around him and completed all but one of his passes.

His xG rating of 1.16 is a record high in this spell, a whole goal better than his previous best – a measly 0.13 in the 1-0 win against Charlton – and in offering 65 match actions he was more involved than in any of his previous five outings.

Reflecting on his goal he told BBC Sheffield: “It was quite a relief. Not just on a personal level, but for the team.

“Physically, I feel like a completely different person. I have lost quite a bit of weight in the time that we have had off and I have worked hard.”

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