Sheffield Wednesday star Kieran Lee on verge of return to first team

CARLOS CARVALHAL has confirmed that key Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Kieran Lee could make his first appearance of pre-season in Sunday's home encounter against Rangers at Hillsborough.

Wednesday's Kieran Lee, right, hopes to be fit for the new season. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

The 29-year-old has missed the Owls’ friendly schedule so far with an ongoing hip issue, but may be handed some game time this weekend after training earlier this week.

Carvalhal, whose side are unbeaten so far in pre-season, said: “He might be involved on Sunday. Let’s see. He trained with the ball on Wednesday and the reaction with the ball was good. He is not feeling any pain.

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“I believe he might be integrated into the group on Friday and Saturday, so we will see whether he can be involved.”

Meanwhile, Carvalhal says that his starting up line-up in Sunday’s friendly could well differ greatly from the side who will take the field in the Owls’ Championship opener at Preston six days later.

The Portuguese head coach has confirmed that the game against the Gers, who will be backed by 7,000 travelling supporters, will predominantly be utilised to ensure all of his first-team squad reach the requisite level of match fitness ahead of their league curtain-raiser at Deepdale.

The Owls chief is also mindful of the club’s early-season schedule, which sees them face three sides in league and cup in the opening seven days of the campaign, with Sunday’s match being primarily about fitness.

Carvalhal said: “We want to put all of the lads at the same level. We want them all to be ready for the season.

“I am not just looking at the Preston game. Three days after Preston, we play Chesterfield in the cup and then QPR at home. I am looking at everything. We need all the players. I will decide what I believe is the best team to play against Preston.

“If you are asking me whether the team who will play against Rangers will be the team that play against Preston, possibly not.

“We are preparing for Rangers and then have another week to get ready for Preston. We will play the 11 we think is best to get the three points against Preston.”

Carvalhal is refusing to comment on continued rumours linking the club with a potential move for Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton after fresh reports this week.

He said: “I am happy with our full-backs. I am happy with our team and I never comment about players who do not belong to us.”