Sheffield Wednesday: Steep learning curve for Owls striker

He is an exciting, raw talent who possesses all the attributes required of a modern day centre forward.

Thursday, 18th February 2016, 5:05 am
Lucas Joao

But Lucas Joao’s performances have been hit and miss in recent months.

He ended his two-and-half-month goal drought in Saturday’s thrashing of Brentford, stepping up off the bench to score Wednesday’s fourth goal in the dying minutes.

The 22-year-old is big, strong, athletic and made an impressive start to life in English football, bagging seven of his eight goals before the end of November as well earning his first two senior caps for Portugal.

An eye-catching display as a lone striker in the Owls’ famous cup win over Arsenal saw Joao linked with a move to Premier League side Everton. He was hot property before his dip in form.

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal believes Joao got carried away by his early season success, claiming he “lives in the clouds”.

“The reality is we maybe missed Lucas for two months,” said Carvalhal. “We lost him for some time. It is a lesson to all of us.”

Eighteen of Joao’s 34 appearances since arriving from Nacional have come from the bench. Five of his eight strikes have come as a substitute.

Midfield enforcer Jose Semedo, out of contract at the end of the season, told The Star: “It has been a learning curve for Lucas.

“He has been left out of the starting eleven but his attitude has been good.

“When he has come on, he has looked hungry and worked hard. He got his reward on Saturday.

“Lucas is a quality player and hopefully he will now kick on and keep banging in goals.”

Competition for places is fierce up front, with Gary Hooper having notched 10 goals in his last 11 outings while Atdhe Nuhiu has given them a focal point in the final third. Top-scorer Fernando Forestieri has blossomed whether he has been utilised on the left wing, at the tip of the diamond or in a front two.

“We have got Gary Hooper and Atdhe Nuhiu who are on fire and hopefully Lucas is getting back to his best,” said Semedo.

“Every club in the world wants two or three strikers to be bang in form and we have got that.”

Semedo, tongue-in-cheek, added: “They are all happy with each other and remind me of Barcelona’s front three!”