Carlos Carvalhal has defended his team selection after seeing Wednesday slip to a third defeat in their last four matches on the road.
Despite a spirited second half performance at Middlesbrough, the Owls returned to South Yorkshire empty-handed as Cristhian Stuani’s strike after just 44 seconds proved decisive.
Many observers were surprised by the omission of Fernando Forestieri from the starting eleven. Carvalhal named the talismanic forward on the bench, bringing him on at half-time after Boro had controlled a one-sided first half. The little Argentine had started his previous 17 Wednesday matches, hitting 10 goals.
To combat the “unfair” festive schedule, Carvalhal shuffled his pack, bringing in Portugal international Lucas Joao up front. There were also five other changes from the side who strolled past Birmingham City on Boxing Day.
Head coach Carvalhal felt justified in his call to leave out in-form star Forestieri.
“Fernando told me that he was not in a condition to play 90 minutes,” he stated. “We planned to put him inside in the second half.
“Fernando talked to me and said ‘I want to be serious; I’m not ready to play 90 minutes because I don’t feel energy’. He said ‘If you need me during the match I am ready’
“Some of our players played two days ago. Some of them haven’t played in a long time. We analysed it player-by-player. There are players who recovered better than others. We started with the team who were more fit and to play on the counter attack.”
Sam Hutchinson is a major injury worry as Wednesday prepare to travel to mid-table Fulham this weekend. The utility ace was forced off at half-time against Boro after sustaining a groin problem.
Carvalhal said: “I don’t know long Sam will be out for. He felt a pain so he had to come off.”
Should Hutchinson fail to recover in time for the trip to the capital, Vincent Sasso is in contention to partner skipper Glenn Loovens.