The Australian international, who joined the club in the summer of 2019 with a record of having played 35 or more league games in each of his previous three seasons with QPR, has been able to start only 22 in 68 matches since suffering an injury in an infamous defeat at Stoke City on Boxing Day 2019.
The central issue has been a hyperextension of the knee that led to surgery and has caused issues to other parts of his body, a battle that he described in a candid, exclusive interview with The Star as ‘the biggest challenge of his career.’
“I’ve got to be on it in terms of what I do off the pitch, how I look after myself,” Luongo said.
“Because I want to put myself in the best frame of mind and best physical condition for each game. I’ve got to be on it 24/7 until the end of my career now, this injury has impacted me that much.
“It’s still there, I’m not going to shy away from it, but it’s manageable. I’ve had a good preseason, feel fit and strong, and on game days I feel great.”
Darren Moore’s summer rebuild has offered food for thought with the addition of central midfield trio Dennis Adeniran, Lewis Wing and George Byers. Alongside Barry Bannan and Luongo, that puts five players in the scrap for minutes in a three-man midfield without factoring in the likes of Sam Hutchinson and youngsters such as Fisayo Dele-Bashiru.
Luongo, who turns 29 next month, has in many ways suffered from his own indispensability, by the admission of former managers having had to be rushed back from injury to shore up a midfield otherwise bereft of the dynamism and defensive qualities he provides.
One occasion in particular saw Tony Pulis bring him into well ahead of forecast for his first match as Owls boss at Preston. He had to be substituted early in the following three matches and then broke down in the first half against Huddersfield. Season over, save for a couple of 10-minute cameos and another injury.
Moore has spoken a number of times about the need to manage Luongo back to his undoubted best and with more bodies and more quality in the Wednesday midfield ranks he should have the squad to be able to do it.
With all those bodies sharing the minutes afforded to three spaces, Luongo’s workload is not so desperate, the need to play him as often as humanly possible felt by previous managers not so stark.
This is a new challenge for the former Ball D’or nominee in a division he could well light up if afforded the opportunity to come back refreshed and stronger than ever.
Moore has started with the trio of Bannan, Adeniran and Wing so far but could well be tempted to mix things up beyond this weekend as midweek fixtures are thrown into the mix and the cut and thrust of League One takes hold.
His form in the pre-injury days of his Wednesday career so far would suggest he’s a match for anyone in the division. Moore’s task may well be to give him the space to get him there.