Big-match verdict: Fernando Forestieri faces uncertain future after axe from the Owls

Equaliser: Owls striker Sam Winnall celebrates his goal.
Picture: Steve Ellis
Equaliser: Owls striker Sam Winnall celebrates his goal. Picture: Steve Ellis
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Sam Winnall grabbed the equaliser for Sheffield Wednesday but absent team-mate Fernando Forestieri was the major talking point at Hillsborough.

The two strikers were involved in a training ground bust-up on Thursday, Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal playing down the incident 24 hours later at his pre-match press conference.

But Forestieri – a figure who has courted controversy at Hillsborough – was dropped for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with QPR, and has been disciplined by the club.

Carvalhal reiterated “it is not a big problem” but refused to divulge whether the Argentinian would be included for Wednesday’s visit of Sunderland to Hillsborough.

“I don’t want to create a big case here because it is something that happens in all the clubs in the world,” said Carvalhal.

“It is not a big problem that we have on our hands but of course we must manage the situation and we have a discipline. If we don’t have discipline then we’ll never win a game.

“I don’t want to create a problem when there isn’t a problem.

“It is something that happens often, I know because I played football. I know this happens. What I must do is manage the discipline in the club.”

Winnall was tight-lipped over the incident, claiming “everything had been sorted”.

“It’s nothing to worry about, it happens, and you move on,” he said. “It’s been dealt with. It was in a training session, and we have moved on.”

Forestieri’s no-show on Saturday was reminiscent of 12 months ago, on the second weekend of the Championship season then, too, when the 27-year-old refused to play for the Owls at Norwich City amidst speculation of a big-money move from Hillsborough.

The difference this time is it was Wednesday’s decision to sideline the player, and speculation is that they may sell the striker to help fund defensive reinforcements.

In Forestieri’s absence, Carvalhal still had an array of striking options to select from.

He started with Jordan Rhodes and Gary Hooper, and was able to bring on Steven Fletcher and Winnall from the bench.

The latter grabbed a 49th-minute equaliser, firing beyond Alex Smithies after Barry Bannan’s cross had evaded everyone.

It was Winnall’s first goal for the Owls this season, and the perfect response after not even featuring on the bench for the opening weekend defeat at Preston.

“I was disappointed to being left out of the squad last week,” said the former Barnsley striker. “I have got to put myself in the gaffer’s mind, that I am here and ready to perform for this club.

“That’s what I want to do, play as many minutes, score as many goals, and be successful here. Hopefully, that’s the start of a good season for myself and the club.

“I got my chance today and I like to think I have taken that.”

Wednesday suffered a terrible opening, losing both Sam Hutchinson and captain Glenn Loovens in the opening 27 minutes.

They also fell behind to Jamie Mackie’s neat finish, after some sloppy defensive play.

The hosts had their chances in the opening 45 minutes, Daniel Pudil heading over, Rhodes being thwarted by Smithies and Tom Lees heading narrowly wide.

Winnall – a first-half replacement for defender Loovens – came close but fired wide from Adam Reach’s cross.

But he restored parity after the break, before Rhodes somehow headed wide from close range.

QPR substitute Kazenga LuaLua poked the ball wide, while Hooper saw his claims for a penalty, after Josh Scowen handled on the line, waved away.

Winnall, 26, continued: “We needed that point, it’s not the three points we wanted, but we showed grit, determination and character within the squad which showed we are not going to roll over and be beaten. That’s definitely something to build on going into the season.

“There’s competition (for places) here that I have never experienced before.

“I am competing against players with extreme qualities. I have different qualities to the other strikers here, and it drives me on to be a better player. I want to improve and that’s how I have got to look at it.”

“I’m really happy to get on the scoresheet. We knew we had to get our season going in the league.

“We knew we had to put on a show for our fans and show a bit of fight and get ourselves back in the game. Hopefully, myself and the whole team can build on that result going into Wednesday.

“We know we haven’t found our top performance yet, but we’re working on it and we put up a fight and showed that when things are going against us a little bit, we’re not going to go under.

“It’s not the three points we wanted but it’s a point, it’s a start.”

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Lees, Loovens (Winnall 27), Pudil, Wallace, Hutchinson (Jones 13), Bannan, Reach, Hooper, Rhodes (Fletcher 87). Unused substitutes: Wildsmith, Palmer, Boyd, Abdi.

Queens Park Rangers: Smithies, Perch, Onuoha, Lynch, Wszolek (Furlong 90), Luongo, Scowen, Freeman (Manning 80), Bidwell, Mackie (LuaLua 79), Washington. Unused substitutes: Ingram, Borysiuk, Smith, Baptiste.

Referee: C Kavanagh.