Sheffield Wednesday: Misfiring Hooper backed to come good

Gary Hooper
Gary Hooper

Gary Hooper has been challenged to rediscover his goal-scoring touch in the final weeks of the regular Championship season.

The goals have dried up for the Owls striker, who has netted 11 times since his arrival from Norwich City.

In the last two months, the 28-year-old has netted just once in 11 appearances.

After shrugging off a foot problem, Hooper returned to action in Tuesday’s goalless draw with MK Dons.

“Gary received a kick and didn’t train too many times during that period,” said Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal.

“But he is a dangerous player, even if he doesn’t score, to opponents. He links the attack very well and scores goals.

“I’m happy with him. He knows that he can do a little better. He’s doing okay.”

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Hooper’s partner is expecting a baby before tomorrow’s lunchtime showdown at Derby County. Carvalhal is optimistic Hooper will feature at the iPro Stadium as the Owls look to get back to winning ways.

Victory for Carvalhal’s sixth-placed would put them nine points ahead of nearest rivals Cardiff City, who host relegated Bolton Wanderers later that day.

Meanwhile, Owls midfielder Barry Bannan has been included in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Championship Team of the Year. Since moving to Hillsborough last August, the Scotland international has starred in the midfield engine room. Bannan, who is primarily left-footed, has clocked up 36 appearances, hitting two goals.

It is the second year in a row a Wednesday player has been selected in the team, which is voted for by the players. Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood made the cut last year after recording 17 league clean sheets.

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