Hull City manager Steve Bruce has warned his players to beware of Owls top-scorer Fernando Forestieri as the Championship Play-off looms ever closer.
Argentine-born Forestieri has blossomed since arriving at Hillsborough last August, hitting 15 goals and claiming a string of assists.
The 26-year-old, harshly sent off in the Owls’ last meeting with Hull back in February following two bookable offences, is set to start when Carlos Carvalhal’s side tackle the Tigers at Wembley on Saturday.
Speaking at his press briefing yesterday, Bruce said: “Forestieri is one of the outstanding players in the league. He was their marquee signing last summer and I have to say I was a bit surprised that Watford sold him.
“I thought he had a future in the Premier League. They’ve made him available and Sheffield Wednesday stepped in. You have to say that he’s their talisman. He’s given a free role and he’s a good player.”
While Bruce, hoping to lead Hull back into the Premier League at the first time attempt, believes Forestieri is the Owls’ star man, he is wary of some of their other attackers.
“You have to say [Gary] Hooper has done extremely well for them as well since he arrived from Norwich,” he said. “The two wide lads have good experience.
“If you’ve come this far, you’ve got good players. We respect that but we’ve got good players too. It should have all the makings of a really good game.”
Bruce has been impressed with the job Carvalhal has done in turning the Owls into a force to be reckoned with in the second-tier.
“I have to be honest and say I wasn’t aware of him (when he arrived) but if you look at his CV he’s been around the block a bit,” he said. “He’s obviously experienced different countries but he’s made a big impression in his first season.
“He couldn’t have wished for better. It’s up to us to make sure he only gets in the play-offs and doesn’t get to the Premier League.”
The former Manchester United captain is not shocked that Wednesday have qualified for the showpiece fixture, saying: “I said it as far back as last September that this is the best Sheffield Wednesday team for a long while. They’ve quietly gone about their business.
“New owners have got a new manager in with a new group of players. Up the top end of the pitch they’ve got some very good players.
“I’m not surprised that Sheffield Wednesday are there. They’ll take a huge big following. It should be a cracking atmosphere.”
Tigers goalkeeper Allan McGregor (back) remains a major injury worry as Hull prepare for their third trip to the national stadium in two years. Bruce will check on his fitness in training tomorrow before finalising his squad.
“He’s the only doubt,” he said. “It looks as if he will not make it.
“It’s a big loss because he’s an experienced goalkeeper. The one thing that about being in the play-offs is that we’ve been able to play Eldin Jakupovic in a few games. I’ve got no qualms (about playing him).
“Eldin is an experienced goalkeeper who’s kept himself in good nick.”