‘Big chance’ of four-game ban if Sheffield Wednesday made appeal over Fernando Forestieri

Sam Hutchinson has a word with Sheffield Wednesday's Fernando Forestieri after he was sent off against Preston.
Sam Hutchinson has a word with Sheffield Wednesday's Fernando Forestieri after he was sent off against Preston.
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Sheffield Wednesday did not contest Fernando Forestieri’s red card over concerns his ban could have been extended to four games.

The Owls striker was shown a straight red card against Preston North End last Saturday for an off-the-ball incident with Ben Pearson.

Referee Scott Duncan missed the incident, but was alerted to the problem by his assistant.

Unlike last season, when Forestieri was sent off in successive games against Preston and Hull City for collecting two yellow cards, the Owls could have appealed the straight red card.

But Wednesday’s head coach Carlos Carvalhal said the threat of a possible extension to the ban, if their appeal failed, meant the club accepted the punishment.

It means Forestieri faces a three-match suspension, starting with tomorrow’s trip to third-placed Reading.

“Last season we had some consultations and we were told we had reasons to appeal,” said Carvalhal.

“This time, they said there is a big chance if we appeal Fernando will end up with not just a three-game ban, but four.

“So we didn’t appeal, as we didn’t want to be without Fernando for four games.”

Carvalhal revealed the club have held internal talks with the striker about the incident.

“I don’t want to talk too much, it’s an internal situation,” he said. “He knows that, we talk about it internally. We must now look towards the future.”

Owls face a striker crisis tomorrow, with Forestieri suspended, Gary Hooper (hamstring) out for several weeks, and injury-hit Steven Fletcher missing training all week.

It leaves Lucas Joao – himself only two games into his comeback after a long injury lay-off – as Wednesday’s only fit striker for the journey to Berkshire.

Carvalhal says Scotland international Fletcher has been carrying an unspecified injury for several weeks.

“Fletcher has been playing, training these last few weeks with some limitations, he is not 100 per cent,” he said.

“He is a very good professional, that’s why he has been involved, to try and help the team.”

He added: “We decided this week, to give him special treatments, and he was not involved in training.

“He will be back training Friday, and we will see what reaction he has.

“We took this decision to try and get him near 100 per cent in the future, rather than train and play with limitations.”

It means Carvalhal may be forced to draft in teenager George Hirst – son of Owls legend David Hirst – as a substitute tomorrow.

The 17-year-old has an impressive goals record for both Wednesday’s and England’s youth teams this season – combined tally of 20 – but Carvalhal has been keen to avoid rushing Hirst into first-team action.

His only senior outing came as a late substitute in the EFL Cup defeat at Cambridge United in August.

The teenager has trained with the Owls’ first team this week and could travel south with the squad.

“Usually on the bench we have two defenders, two midfielders, and two attackers,” said Carvalhal. “George is training with us this week, and is one player who would be available if we need him.”

The striker shortage could also see Wednesday employ a 4-3-3 formation at Reading, rather than Carvalhal’s usual 4-4-2.

It means he could opt for just one striker, with two wingers supporting the lone forward.

Carvalhal said: “Playing 4-3-3 is one possibility. With the situation with Fletcher – because we don’t know if he will be 100 per cent – it’s possible we can play 4-3-3, three in the middle, with two wingers and one attacker.

“Let’s see after training (Friday) and we will find the best formation to fight against a strong Reading team.”

As well as Fletcher, the Owls have several other injury problems, with Ross Wallace, Glenn Loovens, Joao, Will Buckley and Kieran Lee all picking up knocks against Preston.

“We never change because we want, we change sometimes because we have a player who is not fit, or not recovered, and we have a player who is fit,” said Carvalhal. “That’s why we change.

“We manage the players, we know them, and the medical department know them 100 per cent.”