LuaLua to come out of the box

Owls talks: Lomana LuaLua
Owls talks: Lomana LuaLua

FORMER Newcastle and Portsmouth star Lomana LuaLua was in the Hillsborough directors box when Wednesday beat Scunthorpe in August.

The Owls were talking to him with a view to making him a member of their squad.

Nothing came of the negotiations and he ended up signing for Blackpool - who could hand him a starting role in tonight’s FA Cup replay.

The Congolese forward was not involved in the 1-1 draw between the clubs at Bloomfield Road and was an unused sub in the Seasiders’ 3-1 win at Cardiff on Saturday.

But there have been times since his signing as a free agent in October when manager Ian Holloway has described him as having given the team an extra dimension.

The 31-year-old has scored four goals so far, including one in the FA Cup third-round 5-1 victory at Fleetwood.

He could play tonight in a front three also comprising of 38-year-old Kevin Phillips plus Tom Ince, 20-year-old son of Paul Ince.

LuaLua was a free agent after leaving Cypriot club Omonia, at the time that Wednesday were talking to him.

But Gary Megson said yesterday: “It was never going happen, because of the wages he’s used to earning; we couldn’t get there.”

In September, LuaLua trained with Hartlepool, where ex-Newcastle assistant boss Mick Wadsworth was manager.

Owls chairman Milan Mandaric knows the forward from from the time when they were both at Portsmouth.

Wednesday were interested in LuaLua - who is known for celebrating goals with back somersaults - when they were in the market for a striker.

They signed Ryan Lowe on the day after their interest in LuaLua became known and the day before the August transfer window closed.

The Owls had missed out on Adam Le Fondre as the Rotherham striker joined Reading.

LuaLua, came to England as a youngster and started out at Colchester. Bobby Robson bought him for Newcastle for £2.25m in 2000, and Harry Redknapp took him to Portsmouth for £1.75m in 2004 after a three-month loan.

He moved to Greek club Olympiakos for £2m-plus in 2007 and has played in Qatar.

Blackpool captain Keith Southern is out tonight because of the injury that forced him off at Bloomfield Road. The midfield player had eight stitches in a four-inch cut on his ankle - and boss Ian Holloway claimed that, because he was off the field when Clinton Morrison scored, the Owls had an unfair advantage.

Holloway said yesterday: “There is lots to play for but there is a very tough opponent in our way so we have to be at our best to get anything.

“I thought Sheffield Wednesday looked a very good side in the first game. They were very well organised. They weren’t Gary’s main team but they played the same way and they got themselves in front and we struggled to get back.

“We managed it in the end so let’s see what we can do there. It is a big pitch and a good surface so let’s have a go.

“Hillsborough is a great place and they are a big club with a big crowd. We have to try and do our best and try and get through. I want to attack and make it an entertaining game.

“The team we are playing against are the equivalent of a Championship side.”

One to watch

Kevin Phillips followed his injury-time penalty equaliser against Wednesday in the first game at Blackpool by scoring in a 2-1 home win against Coventry last Tuesdday and going on as a sub on Saturday at Cardiff to equalise in the 79th minute, so has now scored four goals in his last five appearances for a total of 11 for the season.

History lesson

The last time the teams met at Hillsborough, it went to penalties after a 0-0 draw, in the Carling Cup first round on August 11. The Owls won the shoot-out 4-2, with Richard O’Donnell saving Blackpol’s first attempt and Liam Palmer, Jon Otsemobor, Clinton Morrison and James O’Connor scoring.