Sheffield Wednesday: Much-improved Owls are still a work in progress

Michael Turner
Michael Turner

Sixteen matches into the campaign and already the Championship is into its third international break.

The league is starting to take shape and ninth-placed Sheffield Wednesday will use this period to rest and recover their players in preparation for a gruelling festive schedule.

Michael Turner, right, has bolstered Wednesday's backline since arriving from Premier League Norwich City

Michael Turner, right, has bolstered Wednesday's backline since arriving from Premier League Norwich City

But what have we learned so far at Hillsborough?

n Wednesday have assembled a strong squad: Following his surprise appointment, head coach Carlos Carvalhal expressed a desire to have two players per position fighting for a starting spot.

Thanks to Carvalhal, owner Dejphon Chansiri and their much talked about committee, consisting of Glenn Roeder, Paul Senior and Jonathan Hill, Wednesday now have strength in depth to cope with injuries and suspensions.

There are no weak areas, although Carvalhal accepts the team are temporarily a little light in the wide areas with Marco Matias and Modou Sougou still on the sidelines, and bringing in Gary Hooper on loan was arguably the final piece in the jigsaw. As soon as the Norwich City striker is up to match speed, he will give their forward line an extra dimension. Hooper has a big point to prove, having been frozen out at Carrow Road, and knows he needs to deliver if he is to prolong his Hillsborough stay.

n Carvalhal has made them a difficult side to beat: Wednesday are producing some slick, free-flowing football - a pre-requiste for Chansiri - and Carvalhal currently boasts an impressive 50% win percentage despite having utilised 27 players this season.

It appeared in the opening few weeks of the season that Carvalhal was unsure what his best system and side were as he repeatedly chopped and changed in search of a winning formula.

But since ditching the 4-2-3-1 formation in the wake of their home reversal to Middlesbrough, Wednesday have flourished. Crucially, they strengthened the spine of their team before the transfer window closed, capturing Michael Turner, Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri.

n The Owls are not the finished article and can ill-afford to get carried away: Yes, Wednesday are ninth in the table, just four points adrift of the play-off positions, and look a side well equipped to mount a promotion challenge.

At this stage last season, they were five places and four points worse off, underlining the steady progress the Owls have made under Carvalhal.

But Wednesday were given a big reality check by Charlton Athletic last weekend. The Addicks halted their 11-match unbeaten run as the Owls delivered a lacklustre display.

Now they need to send out a message to the rest of the division by going on another good run.