Sheffield Wednesday head coach Carlos Carvalhal is confident he can keep hold of match-winner Gary Hooper after the on-loan striker signed off with a double to sink Yorkshire rivals Leeds.
Hooper, scheduled to return to parent club Norwich, scored twice in the space of three minutes early in the second half at Hillsborough to take his goals tally to six in as many matches as Wednesday saw off Leeds 2-0.
Fellow Wednesday strikers Fernando Forestieri and Atdhe Nuhiu, defenders Jack Hunt, Barry Bannan and Glenn Loovens, plus midfielder Sam Hutchinson all signed new long-term deals with the club this week and Portuguese Carvalhal is keen to keep Hooper.
“He was my first choice since the beginning and I’m sure he’s happy here,” Carvalhal said. “He’s scoring goals because he’s enjoying the way we’re playing.
“I’m not worried. We win games without Gary, we win games without Fernando (Forestieri), we win games without (Barry) Bannan.
He’s a Premier League referee who’s stepped down to take a big derby - he should be with the under-nines on the park pitches on Monday.Leeds boss Steve Evans
“Of course, if you said to me if I want Hooper, Fernando, Bannan, I’d prefer them all to stay, we’d be stronger. The negotiation part is out of my hands.
“I’m an optimist about the situation because the player likes to be here and enjoys the way that we play.
“I advise my technical team but I’m not involved in negotiations. I don’t get involved in money or agents. With this, it’s in the hands of the chairman.”
Hooper stabbed home the opening goal from close range in the 47th minute and followed up to convert his second three minutes later after Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestre had spilled Forestieri’s shot.
Leeds looked to have hauled themselves back in it when Liam Cooper turned the ball home following substitute Alex Mowatt’s 78th-minute free-kick, but referee Anthony Taylor controversially ruled it out.
Taylor had blown for Mowatt’s free-kick to be taken, but then deemed Wednesday had not completed an earlier substitution - Forestieri had not left the pitch - and after consulting his linesman ordered the set-piece to be retaken.
“To me it’s very clear. The fourth referee showed a strong personality,” Carvalhal added.
“My view is very clear that he must cancel that goal because the game has stopped at that moment to do the substitution.”
But his opposite number did not see it that way. Leeds head coach Steve Evans saw the ‘goal’ but after nipping straight down the tunnel to the toilet, returned to see it chalked off and was left furious.
“I’ve been into see Anthony and he said by law he’s got it right because it should be disallowed,” said Evans, who revealed Sam Byram had requested not to play after the club accepted a bid from Everton for the 22-year-old this week.
“I’ve seen many times where the referee stops it for a substitution, someone’s taking for too long and he restarts play, but I’ve never seen somebody going back to restart play again, ever.
“He’s a Premier League referee who’s stepped down to take a big derby - he should be with the under-nines on the park pitches on Monday.
“You cannot make a mistake of that magnitude in a game which means so much to both sets of supporters.”