His general play is improving, his match sharpness has returned and the goals are starting to flow again on a consistent basis.
The turning point in Gary Hooper’s career at Wednesday actually came away to Cardiff City last month. There were just signs in the Welsh capital that he was rediscovering his best form after a frustrating couple of months, making a positive contribution in the Owls’ spirited comeback.
Strikers thrive on goals and that cameo gave Hooper the confidence to kick on and open his Wednesday account. He has now bagged four goals in his last five outings, including a superb brace versus relegation-haunted Bolton Wanderers in midweek.
Hooper’s second the other night was an outstanding piece of skill and improvisation. His touch and the way he brought the ball down - although other referees may have penalised him for a high foot - before smashing a fierce shot past Ben Amos. had class stamped all over it. The strike had Premier League class stamped all over it.
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“Gary is doing well but I think he can do better in the future,” said head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
Hooper is a fox in the box and it is understandable why Wednesday want to turn his loan into a permanent transfer. There aren’t many players around of his type who are affordable or available at this time of year.
Hooper still needs to sharpen up his finishing. He missed some good chances in the Bolton thriller.
But the Owls brought Hooper in because they felt he could add an extra dimension to their forward line. He proved they were right to place their faith in him on Tuesday, turning a tight match, where Wednesday produced a patchy performance, their way. His impressive display culminated in him being named in the Football League team of midweek.
I am told Hooper is keen to make Hillsborough his permanent home and that he is willing to take a pay cut. (He is reportedly earning over £30,000 a week at Norwich) Talks are on-going with Hooper’s representatives. After tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby, Hooper is poised to return to Carrow Road.
We have seen this before with Connor Wickham a few seasons ago where Wednesday got him up to match speed and scoring goals but were unable to hang on to his services. The Owls will be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself.