Newly-capped Portugal striker Lucas Joao has been urged to continue working hard if he wants to develop into a top marksman.
The 22-year-old Sheffield Wednesday striker, a summer signing from Nacional, has impressed for the Owls this season, netting four goals in 18 games.
He has won rave reviews and even been linked with a big-money move to Premier League Everton in January. His form earned Joao a call-up to Fernando Santos’s Portugal national squad, where he made his first international start in the midweek 2-0 win over Luxembourg.
But Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal, while delighted with Joao’s display, has warned his countryman he is not the finished article.
“It is not common for a player in the second division, in this case in England, who can go to play in the first XI of the Portugal national team,” said Carvalhal.
“I don’t remember a player, over the last few years, going from the second division to the Portuguese national team.
“But he is not a complete player. He is still learning, but he’s in a good way. He will need time (to develop). We must remember two years ago he was playing in the Portugal third division.
“It’s been a big jump in a short space of time, and he has had to learn a lot of things.
“He has the ability, he has everything to be a top striker.
“He needs the time, not just physically but mentally, to be a very good player. Since the beginning of the season, I have been very happy with him.
“He has learned a lot. We play here different, and he has improved defensively. When we lose the ball he has a very good mental action to recover the ball.
“It’s something we will try to improve with him. I believe he learns very fast and he will learn.”
Joao signed a four-year deal in the summer, for an undisclosed fee – although it is understood to have been around £2m.
He grabbed the headlines with a superb display against Arsenal in the League Cup, scoring against the Gunners in a 3-0 televised win.
Former Owls defender Andy Hinchcliffe – now a Sky Sports pundit – even named the striker in his top 10 Championship players this season.
“Sheffield Wednesday have been a real success story so far this season – and Lucas Joao has been a big part of it,” said Hinchcliffe. “I’ll admit: I saw the name, I didn’t know much about him and I was wondering what type of player we were going to get.
“I’ve seen him on four or five occasions this season; he was fantastic against Arsenal in the League Cup as well.
“He’s got everything you need to be successful, not just in the Championship but as a striker in the modern game.
“I’ve been really impressed and the team plays to his strengths by getting plenty of crosses in.”
Joao and Owls team-mate, Czech Republic left-back Daniel Pudil, returned from international duty unscathed yesterday.
With midfield duo Barry Bannan (ankle injury) and Sam Hutchinson (suspended) for tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby with Huddersfield Town, their return is welcome news for the Owls.
“They are okay, a little tired,” said Carvalhal. “But Friday they will be back training 100 per cent.
“Daniel was man of the match in his first game for the national team, Lucas did well and played in the first XI. His motivation is high.
“Lucas is a player with ability, all the skills which a striker must have had. It’s not a question of ability, some players have ability, but never go on to become a fantastic player.
“Lucas is improving, which is why the national coach called him into the team, but he has a long way to go to become a top striker.”
Carvalhal has warned Huddersfield’s new German boss David Wagner he will need time to put his stamp on Town.
The former Borussia Dortmund coach, who worked under Jurgen Klopp, replaced Chris Powell at the Terriers.
There are similarities with Carvalhal, who is also in his first season in England as a foreign coach and while the Owls boss is in the dark as to what style Town will play, he does admit patience is key to success for a new coach
“We are ready to play, we know the opponent, but we don’t know the system they will play,” said Carvalhal. “They have a new coach and new ideas.
“The coaches are not magic. They cannot change everything in one week. I remember Klopp, he said to me after a game, that these kind of things, we need months or years to change.
“Like he did at Borussia, he created a philosophy, but to create that takes years, not weeks.
“I expect changes, but to do the majority of ideas, create and implement a model, you need time.
“It’s similar to here. It all depends on the patience of the players, the fans and the chairman of the club. In my opinion, in the four months here a lot of things have changed for the better.
“We are playing positive football, and our fans are happy. I am happy, happy and proud.”