Norwich 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0: Forestieri stuns Owls by refusing to play

Owls Kieran Lee
Owls Kieran Lee
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Carlos Carvalhal saw his Sheffield Wednesday side maintain their unbeaten Championship start with a draw at Norwich City.

The Canaries, who were 4-1 winners at Blackburn in their opening match, had by far the better of the first half, while the visitors came more into it after the interval and were well worth their share of the spoils.

The Canaries were quickly on the front foot at a packed Carrow Road and might have gone ahead in the second minute.

Wes Hoolahan’s slide-rule pass gave Cameron Jerome a run on goal but the striker allowed the ball to get away from him and the danger was cleared.

After forcing four corners in the opening 10 minutes, Norwich went close again midway through the first half when Sam Hutchinson’s interception of a Robbie Brady cross from the left only just cleared Keiren Westwood’s crossbar.

While Norwich were looking the more dangerous side there was not a single effort on target at either end in the opening half hour, with a well-organised Wednesday side appearing content to soak up the pressure.

Steven Naismith had another chance for the hosts just before the break after more good work by Hoolahan, but a decent block from Almen Abdi took the sting out of an effort that appeared to be goal-bound.

There was a shock for home fans at half-time as goalkeeper John Ruddy failed to appear after the break, with Northern Ireland international Michael McGovern coming on to make his competitive debut.

Ruddy had pulled up late in the first half after making a routine clearance, with the problem appearing to be a groin strain.

Ex-Canary Gary Hooper produced the visitors’ first effort on target six minutes after the restart but it was a tame effort straight at the replacement keeper, as was Daniel Pudil’s shot from distance just before the hour mark.

Norwich had started the second period slowly and what looked like their best effort of the game so far - a powerful Jerome header that was superbly blocked by Westwood - would have been ruled out for offside had it gone in.

McGovern was then called into action at the other end with the Irishman producing a smart stop to keep out Barry Bannan’s snapshot following some slick play on the edge of the box.

The Owls went even closer after 71 minutes when Tom Lees’ close-range effort from a corner was cleared off the line by Jonny Howson, while Lucas Joao’s control then let him down when he had a sight of goal.

But Norwich finally found some impetus as the match entered its final 10 minutes, with some desperate defending required as first Hoolahan and then Brady caused havoc with raids down the left.

The Owls suffered a setback before kick-off when striker Fernando Forestieri - the subject of a reported £12m bid from Newcastle United - refused to travel with the team to Norfolk.

Carvalhal said: “The chairman doesn’t want to sell any player. That’s what he has told me. I can’t tell you more than this.

“Fernando has a contract for three years. He belongs to us. We don’t want to sell any player.”

The Portuguese chief has revealed Forestieri initially ruled himself out of playing against Aston Villa last week.

But Carvalhal says he and club captain Glenn Loovens persuaded Forestieri to play. The former Watford man ended up grabbing an 85th minute winner.

Carvalhal said: “Fernando came to talk to me before the Aston Villa game and said his head wasn’t right. He refused to play.

“I talked with him and so did Glenn Loovens. At that moment, he changed his mind so he played against Aston Villa.”

Forestieri informed Carvalhal he was unwilling to play against Norwich yesterday.

“He trained as normal in the week and played very well,” he said.

“We prepared the game on Friday morning and put the players in the position. We practised corners and free-kicks.

“When we were ready to go to the bus, he refused to travel.

“Again, I talked with him because I like him a lot. He’s a nice guy and a good professional. He said he didn’t want to go.”

When quizzed on whether he was disappointed in Forestieri’s actions, Carvalhal said: “He had the best season of his career last year. That was the most games he had played and he had never scored more goals.

“We, as a club, helped him a lot and so did the colleagues.

“In the modern football, it is like this. It’s the money that makes the personalities.

“When I talked with the chairman, he was very clear that he didn’t want to sell any player and he’s still saying absolutely the same now. Let’s see what happens.”

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