Sheffield Wednesday: In-form Hooper can propel Owls to new heights
As red-hot streaks in front of goal go, Gary Hooper's recent record is mightily impressive.
The striker, formerly of Scunthorpe United and Celtic, has claimed seven of Wednesday’s last nine goals in the Championship.
His outstanding second half brace in Saturday’s triumph at Birmingham City took his tally to nine goals in his last 10 appearances and fired the Owls back into the play-off positions.
Even Hooper’s own teammates are starting to refer to him as a ‘goal machine’ - and it is hard to argue with that claim!
Ex-Wednesday defender and England international Viv Anderson is unsurprised by the impact Hooper has made since moving to Hillsborough.
“If your going to go up then you need that player who will get you 20 plus goals and Gary is one of those,” he told The Star.
“Although it didn’t work out for him at Norwich, sometimes it just doesn’t fit for the player, he’s come to Wednesday and done a great job in the short space of time he’s been there and I think that could be the turning point.
“To get out of that league you need people like that.”
Terry Butcher, who, along with Anderson, is set to take part in a charity bike ride challenge for the Men United campaign to tackle prostate cancer, is also a big admirer of Hooper’s qualities.
Butcher said: “Gary is a proven goalscorer; he’s a sniffer in the box and will hit the back of the net.
“He scored a few times against me when I managed Inverness; he was a handful.”
Saturday’s thrilling come-from-behind win means the Owls remain unbeaten in the league this calendar year. Carlos Carvalhal’s men now only trail the automatic promotion places by six points.
They host 12th-placed Brentford on Saturday seeking to maintain their fine form at Hillsborough. Only Middlesbrough have defeated Wednesday in their own backyard and that came back in August.
With fixtures looming on the horizon against Brentford, Preston North End and Queens Park Rangers, Wednesday have a big opportunity to put serious pressure on the leading sides in the division. Coach Lee Bullen says they are looking up rather than down.
As Carvalhal has repeatedly stated in recent months, he believes the team will be stronger in the second half of the campaign. They are on a roll at the moment, big players are returning from spells on the sidelines and there is more to come from individuals such as Aiden McGeady, which is why Carvalhal is right to be optimistic about the future.
“What they’ve got this year is a team and a manager who are churning results out on a consistent basis,” added Anderson.
“They have always been chopping and changing managers but now they have somebody in Carvalhal who is doing a decent job.”