Alan Biggs: Nuhiu selection shows Joao still has work to do at the Owls

From the little things you pick up, Carlos Carvalhal's recent 'head in the clouds' rebuke for Lucas Joao was very politely put.

Thursday, 25th February 2016, 11:00 am
Lucas Joao

Joao had begun to believe his own publicity and was acting the part is more akin to what this column has heard.

On ability alone, there is little or no comparison between the Angola-born Portuguese striker and the player keeping him out at Sheffield Wednesday.

But it is not only Atdhe Nuhiu’s productive form that is making the difference in selection.

Nuhiu is in a constant proving process, always with doubters to win over.

He can never afford to believe he has won that battle; hence you know what you are going

to get every time he wears the shirt.

Miss a penalty in midweek and he still grabs the equaliser in the anti-climactic 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers – incidentally, the kind of bread and butter goal – a well-directed close range header – that he must continue to add to his all-round game as a nagging physical presence.

Joao has physique, too. Plus a great deal more – fantastic footwork, power and precision (with a shot or a pass) allied to that great gift of pace.

Put that lot together and Nuhiu, for all his value as a team player, isn’t at the races. But somewhere within that last sentence is a lesson for the 22-year-old.

First and foremost, he hasn’t arrived.

Not yet.

Mere glimpses of his talent have been enough to provoke talk of the club receiving a bid far outstripping the £2.5m they paid.

Joao would be better served thinking he has yet to justify it.

Not that he won’t. Carvalhal cleverly chose an up moment – Joao’s eighth goal of the season as sub in the 4-0 romp over Brentford – to bring him down a peg.

Failing to win on Tuesday, despite 62 per cent possession, is evidence that Joao, who was on from the 62nd minute, will be wanted to add something to this slightly faltering promotion push in the run-in.

I say slightly because one point from two games is no more than a blip in relative terms. It’s unusual for Wednesday to boss a game to the extent of the QPR affair without emerging victorious because mere patches of quality usually suffice.

But, of course, one special player was missing through suspension.

Fernando Forestieri returns to face leaders Hull in a pivotal clash tomorrow that you feel Wednesday must win to retain a realistic interest, from eight points behind, in automatic promotion.

It can’t be said to be beyond them yet.