Carlos Carvalhal has paid a big compliment to Owls youngster Joe Wildsmith on the eve of their tussle with Stoke City, likening the goalkeeper to legendary Portugal goalkeeper Vítor Baía.
Lifelong Wednesday fan Wildsmith will make his sixth start of the season in tonight’s Capital One Cup quarter-final encounter at the Britannia Stadium.
It will be the 19-year-old’s fourth appearance in the competition, with Carvalhal opting to rest number one Keiren Westwood, who hurt his Achilles in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Blackburn Rovers.
Wildsmith, aged 19, will be searching for his fourth consecutive clean sheet and Carvalhal sees similarities between him and Baia, who used to be his teammate at Porto. Baia also went on to play for Barcelona in a long, distinguished career.
Head coach Carvalhal said: “Joe is a promising player with fantastic abilities.
“I remember when Vítor Baía played in Portugal at the age of 18. He was my teammate and had similar abilites to Joe. He can be a top goalkeeper.”
Carvalhal, who will be without seven senior players, including Fernando Forestieri, Barry Bannan and Michael Turner, insists academy graduate Wildsmith is worthy of a starting berth.
“Nobody gave me anything in my career,” he said. “I want the same, when I am the leader, for the people who work with me. They must fight to win something. I don’t like to give anything to anybody.
“Joe deserves to play. I have not given anything to him. He is a good goalkeeper and worked hard to play. I can sleep well knowing Joe will be in goal.”
The Wednesday boss is adamant his side have nothing to lose as they look to book a place in the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time since 2002.
Carvalhal, who led Leixões to the Portuguese Cup final 13 years ago, said: “All the pressure is on Stoke. They are the favourites. If I said we were the favourites, then everyone will say ‘this guy is crazy’! I’m not crazy. I am realistic and keep my feet on the floor. I know they are better than us.”
Wednesday, meanwhile, paid out £792,203 to agents in the 12 months from October 2014. The total spent in the Championship was £26.1million.