Sheffield Wednesday: Almen Abdi proves himself on Owls training ground

Almen Abdi opens his Owls account
Almen Abdi opens his Owls account

Midfielder Almen Abdi forced his way back into Carlos Carvalhal’s first-team plans after impressing the Owls head coach with his attitude and application in training.

Big things were expected of the Swiss international when he arrived from Premier League side Watford in a big-money move last July.

However, Abdi has largely disappointed and struggled to hold down a regular starting spot.

But the 30-year-old seized his chance to shine in Saturday’s victory over Nottingham Forest.

Abdi made his first Championship start in over two months and only his 14th Wednesday appearance and spectacularly opened his Owls goalscoring account with an unstoppable 28th-minute volley after Ross McCormack saw his penalty saved by Keiren Westwood.

Carvalhal, who made three changes to his starting line-up, told The Star: “We knew when we brought Almen in that he was a quality player.

“It was easier for him to play alongside Sam [Hutchinson] and he played a little more in attack.

“He scored a fantastic goal but I would have been happy with him even if he hadn’t scored.”

Abdi has featured in three out of Wednesday’s last four fixtures.

“It was important that he performed,” admitted Carvalhal. “Almen had an injury before but he has trained well, especially in the last three weeks.

“I’m not saying Almen didn’t train well before but something changed in his head and he is training much better.

“When the players are training and performing well, they will, of course, have the chance to play.

“Almen played well and I’d have said the same had he not scored.

“He’s a good player and gave energy to our midfield and we need that a lot at this moment in the season.

“It is not a surprise to me how Almen played. If we didn’t trust him, we wouldn’t play him. We know exactly what he can do.”

The Owls chief felt Fernando Forestieri, who claimed the crucial second goal after the break, and Jordan Rhodes worked hard to close down Forest in possession.

He said: “It was a nice goal by Fernando and good for the team but what was more important to me was Fernando and Jordan’s fantastic team work.”

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