Sheffield Wednesday: Owls plan to use Hutchinson in defensive role

Sam Hutchinson
Sam Hutchinson

Sheffield Wednesday intend to use Sam Hutchinson as a centre-back this season, boss Carlos Carvalhal has confirmed.

Hutchinson partnered Tom Lees at the heart of Wednesday’s rearguard in their midweek friendly draw at Alfreton Town.

While the former Chelsea youngster has mainly been deployed as a holding midfielder under Carvalhal, he has occasionally filled in at centre-half. He produced a string of accomplished performances in that position last year, most notably in the team’s Hillsborough encounters against Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“Sam will probably play more centre-back than in midfield this season,” Carvalhal told The Star. “He has played well there in the past and was good against Alfreton.

“Sam gave a big confidence to the team. Both he and Tom [Lees] are strong and fast.

“Like with Glenn [Loovens], they have a good connection and believe in each other.”

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Hutchinson’s versatility is a major asset to Wednesday, particularly given their present defensive shortage.

With Loovens facing up to two months on the sidelines after undergoing ankle surgery, the Championship outfit are desperately short of centre-back cover.

Carvalhal conceded: “We don’t have many centre-backs. It is the same as left-back. We must fill those holes.”

Although the Portuguese chief has declined to divulge the number of new faces he plans on adding to his squad before the transfer market shuts on August 31, Carvalhal wants a minimum of two players per position.

“We are doing our job in difficult situations,” he said. “It is not easy to bring players in the Championship but we are doing our job.

“We have more than two or three options for all the positions that we need and I believe that soon we will have some news.

“The most important thing is not to bring in players for the sake of it. We are trying to bring in the correct players to try and improve the team.”

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Carvalhal was satisfied with the team’s performance against Alfreton. Dan Bradley’s header in the dying minutes cancelled out Barry Bannan’s stunning long range effort.

Carvalhal, who threw on youngsters Jack Lee and George Hirst late on, said: “The players are doing their maximum.

“We are looking at the behaviour of the players in and out of training.

“We want a competitive team and for all the players to be fighters. We are analysing everything on a daily basis.”

Fernando Forestieri was among the travelling party for the Alfreton test but Carvalhal opted to rest him as a precautionary measure.

“Fernando ha a small pain and we didn’t want to take any risks” said Carvalhal.

“If Fernando had played, maybe he stay one or two weeks out.”

Next up for Wednesday is a warm-up match at Chesterfield tomorrow, kick-off 1pm.

Carvalhal believes the intensity has been“very high” in training and is happy with how things are progressing - just over three weeks before the start of the new season.

He said: “It is a process. Chesterfield will attack us more than what Alfreton did. The result is not the most important thing (in pre-season).”

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