Midfielder Gary Gardner is expected to go straight into Sheffield Wednesday’s starting line-up for Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Charlton Athletic after arriving on loan from Aston Villa.
Several clubs were believed to be interested in recruiting Gardner on an emergency loan deal, including Wednesday’s arch rivals Sheffield United.
But Gardner, who progressed through Villa’s academy, decided to join Stuart Gray’s team yesterday and is set to remain at Hillsborough until March 12. He is eligible to feature in the Owls’ FA Cup fifth-round meeting with Charlton this weekend.
The 22-year-old’s switch came hours before the Championship outfit confirmed midfield enforcer Jose Semedo faces up to two months out on the sidelines. The Portuguese player, a fans favourite, was stretchered off in their midweek defeat to Wigan Athletic after falling awkwardly in a challenge. Semedo was taken to hospital and an X-ray has revealed he has suffered a double leg injury.
Wednesday’s head physiotherapist Paul Smith said: “Semi has fractured his fibula and also has ligament damage. He will see the surgeon in London on Friday and we expect him to be out for six to eight weeks.”
While it is a setback for Wednesday losing Semedo’s services, Gardner’s arrival softens the blow. Giles Coke is also pushing for a first-team recall, having served a three-match ban.
Gray said: “As soon as we get one player out of the treatment room, we then lose another. I look at my bench against Wigan. We were down to the bare bones. We can’t sulk. We have to get on with it.
“We have an important game coming up against Charlton. Fingers crossed, hopefully we can put in a better performance than we did versus Wigan.”
Solihull-born Gardner, brother of Sunderland midfielder Craig, made his Premier League debut for Villa against Chelsea in 2011 and has played a further 17 times for their senior side. Gardner, who has represented England at a number of levels, including Under-21s, missed a big portion of the 2012/13 season due to injury. He has not featured for Villa since the final day of last season. Gardner has struggled with a back problem this term.