Sheffield Wednesday: Play-off selection dilemma for Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal

Barry Bannan
Barry Bannan

Wednesday chief Carlos Carvalhal has a number of selection dilemmas ahead of the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final showdown with Huddersfield Town.

Barring injuries, Keiren Westwood will line up in goal while Jack Hunt, Tom Lees, Glenn Loovens and Daniel Pudil will make-up the back four this weekend. Westwood has been one of the Owls’ standout performers, Hunt and Pudil have shone in the full-back positions in recent weeks and Lees and captain Loovens have formed a reliable centre-back partnership over the years.

Ross Wallace is in line to start for Wednesday

Ross Wallace is in line to start for Wednesday

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It is in midfield and in attack where Carvalhal has some serious thinking to do.

He has a plethora of options in both departments.

Carvalhal rested Ross Wallace, Barry Bannan and Adam Reach in their final match of the regular season against Fulham. The smart money is on Carvalhal selecting Wallace and Reach in the wide positions. Wallace and Reach have made 43 and 40 appearances respectively this season. Both have improved and upped their games in 2017.

Sam Hutchinson

Sam Hutchinson

Central midfield is where Carvalhal will be pondering the team’s balance. He paired Kieran Lee and Sam Hutchinson together against Fulham, giving the duo some valuable game time ahead of Wednesday’s play-off campaign. Lee played just over an hour and Hutchinson, making his first appearance in over a month due to a calf problem, lasted 74 minutes.

“It was a great feeling to be back,” Hutchinson told The Star. “I wasn’t sure how long I was going to last but my calf felt brilliant.

“I was actually quite surprised so I’m happy.”

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Jordan Rhodes will be hoping to spearhead Wednesday's attack this weekend

Jordan Rhodes will be hoping to spearhead Wednesday's attack this weekend

Bannan, Lee and Hutchinson appear to be vying for two spots. Should Carvalhal keep faith with Lee and Hutchinson or will he break up that pairing? Bannan’s diverse passing range and flair could give Owls the edge in the middle of the pitch.

The biggest decision for Carvalhal will be deciding who leads the line at the John Smith’s Stadium.

As revealed by The Star on Monday, Gary Hooper is unlikely to be involved because of a hamstring injury. His link up play and clever runs off the ball will be missed.

Hutchinson said: “Obviously Hoops is a massive miss but we will go again. We are confident we can cope.

“An individual doesn’t make our team. It’s a team sport and we go into the games very confident.”

Steven Fletcher is in pole position to spearhead the attack, having scored four goals in April.

The debate is who plays alongside Fletcher. Jordan Rhodes, Fernando Forestieri, Sam Winnall, who netted versus Fulham, and Atdhe Nuhiu are the possible candidates.

“Look at the strikeforce we have got,” said Hutchinson. “We’ve got Fletch, Attey, Winnall and Rhodesy. They are proven goalscorers at this level. They all do different jobs and fingers crossed we can go up.”

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