But Callum McManaman has shown, in patches, since moving to Hillsborough he is capable of playing more than a bit-part role in Wednesday’s promotion challenge.
The 25-year-old is a quick, direct, exciting player. He can carve out chances for others and himself by producing a bit of individual brilliance in a tight area. His silky footwork and dribbling skills make him a handful on his day.
When he joined the Owls on loan from West Bromwich Albion at the start of 2017, McManaman expressed his desire to get his stalled career back on track. The Liverpudlian made a name for himself at Wigan Athletic, helping the Latics lift the FA Cup four years ago, but has played precious little football over the last 24 months or so.
Despite WBA forking out £4.75 million to buy the wide man from Wigan, McManaman struggled to force his way into Tony Pulis’ team. He didn’t suit Pulis’ style of play.
But McManaman’s time on the pitch has been limited at Wednesday. He has started just once, appearing eight times as a substitute.
Owls chief Carlos Carvalhal admitted after their defeat to Brentford that McManaman was worthy of more game time. When he was introduced versus the Bees, McManaman changed the game. His creativity and energy livened up Wednesday’s forward line.
“Callum deserves probably more than what we are giving to him,” acknowledged Carvalhal.
But the Owls chief remains reluctant to select him in the first eleven. He came on as a half-time replacement in Saturday’s loss away to Leeds United.
Carvalhal said: “Callum is here to help the team. We must be solid, compact and pick the right moment to create more fantasy.
“We put him on at the correct time against Leeds. He hasn’t played for a long time. He’s the type of player that can create a big impact in 25 to 45 minutes.
“Callum didn’t create too much against Leeds but it wasn’t an easy game as they were solid and organised defensively.”
Some Owls fans are baffled why Carvalhal hasn’t played McManaman more from the start. He should be up to match speed by now.
Maybe Carvalhal has not been overly impressed with McManaman in training. Or perhaps he doesn’t fully trust McManaman to put a shift in defensively and offensively for 90 minutes. Who knows.
But there’s no doubting McManaman’s ability on the ball. There needs to be a marked improvement in the supply line to Fernando Forestieri and Jordan Rhodes and McManaman is a man who could provide them with the ammunition. Rhodes, particularly, thrives on crosses being whipped into the penalty area.