Fernando Forestieri has "really good attitude" as he targets Sheffield Wednesday return from lengthy suspension

Garry Monk knows one of the challenges at Sheffield Wednesday is unlocking the genius in Fernando Forestieri.
Fernando ForestieriFernando Forestieri
Fernando Forestieri

The Italian is arguably the most gifted footballer at Hillsborough, but for a variety of reasons - including injuries and managerial changes - has struggled over the last two years.

The 29-year-old was key to the Owls reaching back-to-back play-offs in his first two seasons at S6 under Carlos Carvalhal, but since then his own downturn has mirrored the team’s Championship struggles.

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The forward will miss Saturday’s visit of Fulham - he is currently serving a six-game Football Association ban for using racist language in a pre-season friendly in 2018.

Forestieri was initially granted time off, but is now back at the Owls’ Middlewood Road training ground and working on a fitness plan so he is raring to go when his ban ends next month.

“Just before I came, he was given some time off to clear his mind about what happened,” said Monk.

“Now he has been in since last week (training). The difficulty is he is not able to play games. The clear objective is he is fully conditioned, as strong as we can get him.

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“That’s also down to the attitude and commitment of the player.

“I have spoke to Fernando, and we all know what type of player he is and what he can bring to us.

“But for him to be able to really deliver that, he needs to be in a condition to do it. He understands that, and it’s for us to work with him to make sure we can push him.

“But it will come down to the player, it’s quite unusual for a player to have this type of period out, and important he uses that time wisely.

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“We have given him a programme that he needs, but it always comes down to the player’s attitude towards that. So far he has shown a really good attitude and understands he needs to do the work.”

In his first two seasons at Hillsborough, Forestieri netted 15 and 12 goals.

But in the subsequent two seasons he netted just five and six goals, as he struggled to hold down a regular starting position.

Monk said: “He needs to be able to put himself in contention for when he comes back, hopefully if the team are doing well, he will have to prove himself to get a place in the team.

“He knows what is expected of him, and what’s needed. I had a really good chat with him, was really clear with him, and we want Fernando Forestieri at his best.”