Sheffield Wednesday: Hot prospect Joao gives Owls boss food for thought

Lucas Joao
Lucas Joao

If Lucas Joao’s accomplished full debut against Mansfield Town is anything to go by, Sheffield Wednesday have unearthed a gem of a centre forward.

The Portuguese Under-21 international is quick, strong, athletic and looks the real deal. It is only one match, against lower league opposition, so people should be careful over going overboard but Joao, pronounced ‘zhe-wow’, is an exciting talent and clearly has a lot to offer.

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal is adamant the former Nacional striker is one for the future but judging by his impressive performance in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over Mansfield in midweek, Joao is ready to spearhead the attack on a regular basis. The Angolan-born player caused havoc throughout the tie, opening the scoring in the first half with a powerful header before teeing up Kieran Lee for the third.

Academy starlet Joe Wildsmith told The Star: “It’s hard for him [Joao] as he doesn’t really speak a lot him of English at the moment. He’s got a couple of Portuguese mates who can translate for him but he’s really fitted in well.

“He gets the style of football we are trying to play. He did really well against Mansfield. He was a handful up front and the goal topped his performance off.

“Joao will be a crowd-pleaser. If he is scoring goals and putting the work rate in, it will be really good for the club.”

With Keiren Westwood rested and Lewis Price sidelined by injury, Carvalhal handed Wildsmith his Owls debut on Tuesday. The lifelong Wednesdayite said it was a “dream come true” to play a competitive match under the lights at Hillsborough.

“It was brilliant,” he said. “Being a Sheffield Wednesday fan, it’s what you dream about as a kid - your first game for the club.

“Andy Rhodes, the goalkeeping coach, told me I was in for the cup game; he has always put his faith in me and I can only thank him for that.

“It was brilliant. All my family and friends were in the crowd and being a Sheffield lad, it was just a special day.

“I loved every minute of it and I just want more of it now.”

Wildsmith, who spent time on loan at Barnsley last season, said he would be prepared to leave Wednesday on a temporary basis to continue his football education.

“I’m not bigging myself up; I will go where I can play football and I would be quite happy to play in League One again,” he said. “Keiren [Westwood] started off with another clean sheet so it will definitely be hard to get in front of him at this club.

“I would be open to a loan. Lewis [Price] is out at the moment and will be back soon.

“If he comes in and is on the bench and Westy is playing, hopefully that will give me a chance to go out and get first-team football in front of a crowd and get more experience playing for three points on a Saturday.

“The score is not the be all and end all in Under-21 football. When you are playing out there, there are no prisoners. You basically win or you lose and you need to win.

“I want to get as many games under my belt as possible as that’s all I need.”

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