Sheffield Wednesday: Ambitious Joao focuses on club football

Lucas Joao
Lucas Joao

Representing his country at a major international tournament is one of Lucas Joao’s many career targets.

But the dynamic forward insists his sole focus is on helping Sheffield Wednesday secure a top-six Championship finish.

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Joao could be included in Portugal’s senior team for this summer’s European Championships in France.

The 22-year-old, recruited from Portuguese Primeira Liga side Nacional, picked up two caps in a matter of days for his country in their friendlies against Russia and Luxembourg last November.

Angolan-born Joao is also part of Portugal’s plans for the Olympic Games, which will be staged in Brazil, in August. He was recently given a run-out against Mexico.

But the powerful striker is refusing to get carried away by his meteoric rise to prominence, stressing his top priority is club football.

He told The Star: “I need to help the team if I’m going to play for Portugal. After the season, I will think about Portugal.”

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New dad Joao has loved playing under Carlos Carvalhal at Hillsborough.

He said: “Carlos encourages us to do our best and enjoy the game. We need to keep working hard, take it game by game and we will see where we are at the end of the season.”

Carvalhal claims Joao has matured since becoming a father.

“He is more adapted now,” he said. “He is more ready and focused.

“He’s a player that’s involved with us. He has grown up a lot. He arrived as a kid from Portugal and now he’s looking like a man.

“He’s a father now so he has more responsibilities and he has grown up a lot since the beginning.

“There are a lot of things that make him a better player than in the past. He has grown up a lot and understands the football better. He must be more strong to fight against the type of football that plays here and I’m very happy. He hasn’t surprised me.”

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Joao, who has bagged eight goals in Owls colours, will be hoping to retain his starting spot when Carvalhal’s men entertain relegation-haunted MK Dons tonight.

The visitors are short of goalkeeping options, with first-choice goalkeeper David Martin out for the rest of the season and Cody Cropper likely to miss out following his red card at Preston North End. The Dons have appealed the sending off. Forward Alex Revell went in goal at Deepdale and superbly saved a penalty.

The Dons will be without Ben Reeves, David Martin and Rob Hall, who are still recovering from calf, hand and knee injuries respectively.

Ex-Owls midfielder Darren Potter is poised to line-up in the middle of the park for the Dons and full-back Jordan Spence, who had a brief loan stint at the club in 2013, is also likely to start.

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