Sheffield Wednesday v Barnsley: Owls will not be splashing out on new striker

Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
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SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY head coach Carlos Carvalhal has stressed that the Owls are not plotting a big-money move for a new striker in January, insisting he is happy with the attacking options at his disposal.

The Hillsborough outfit head into tonight’s home derby with Barnsley without the suspended Fernando Forestieri or the injured duo of Gary Hooper and Marco Matias, while back-up forwards Atdhe Nuhiu and Lucas Joao have yet to score in the league this season.

Speculation has linked Wednesday with a move for Middlesbrough forward Jordan Rhodes, with the ex-Huddersfield Town player on the radar of a host of fellow Championship clubs.

While steadfastly sticking to his policy of not commenting about potential targets, Carvalhal remains unequivocal in his view that the club’s financial parameters mean that shelving out millions to boost their attacking options will not be an option in the new year.

Carvalhal, left to bemoan his side’s lack of killer instinct up front in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Reading, said: “We (still) believe that we will score goals and that we will achieve good results with these players.

“We are not dreaming of what will happen in the future. I live in the reality and the reality is I am happy with the players. We have more than the capacity to score goals and win games.

“I read sometimes on social media about why we don’t take this player or that one. Since the beginning, we know where the best players of the competition are.

“But we cannot put the club in an embargo. We have a financial fair play (system) and this is important.

“Some clubs maybe will deal with problems now or at the end of the season. But we are trying to do things in the proper way.

“Sometimes I read some things that think that we have discovered a mine of gold because they are talking about these (big money) players.

“There are things that we can achieve and other things we cannot achieve.”

Whereas Wednesday must make do tonight without their two major goalscoring outlets from last season in Forestieri and Hooper, Barnsley have no such issues where their leading lights from 2016-17 are concerned.

Captain Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall, who will line up at Hillsborough tonight, have both acquitted themselves impressively at Championship level, although their futures are likely to be under the microscope early next year with their deals due to expire in June.

The Reds have held initial talks with representatives of the pair regarding new deals – and several other players whose contracts end next summer.

But head coach Paul Heckingbottom has revealed that he is anxious that further discussions prevail in the near future, with it being a case of “the sooner, the better” for the Oakwell chief.

Heckingbottom’s immediate priority this evening is a second meeting in four days with one of his former clubs with the 39-year-old hoping that the Reds can follow up victory over Norwich City with a sweet win at Hillsborough tonight, where Barnsley have not won since February 2009.

An away success would see Heckingbottom’s side leapfrog the Owls in the table and the former Wednesday full-back admits that it represents a motivation.

Heckingbottom, a League One play-off winner with the Owls in 2004-05 said: “It would be nice. But I am sure Carlos is saying the same to his players that if they (Wednesday) lose, we are above them.

“It is bragging rights and adds a little bit of extra spice and that is what you want.

“The fact that we are in the same league and close together will hopefully add that little bit of excitement.

“We are pleased with how we have done so far this season, but we still want to push on.”

On resolving the futures of several players, whose current deals end in the summer, with their representatives, Heckingbottom added: “From my own personal point of view, it is the sooner, the better.

“Then you can start again getting some direction and idea of what you need to make it happen or if it is not going to happen – and if it is too far apart.”

Barnsley have not been beaten on the road since going down 2-1 at Leeds United on October 1 and Carvalhal has acknowledged the threat posed by the Reds, with their performances this season, especially away from home, having caught his eye.

Carvalhal, who welcomes midfielder David Jones back into the fray, said: “It will be a tough game.

“This team (Barnsley) did a special away performance in winning four games and scoring four at Wolves and scoring two at Brentford recently.

“It is a team with a big threat in the way they play. But I think we have prepared very well and will be ready.”

Last six games: Sheffield Wednesday LLDWWL; Barnsley DDDLWW.

Referee: P Bankes (Merseyside).

Last time: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Barnsley 0, February 1, 2014; Championship.