Sheffield Wednesday could prove a big noise despite muted summer activity

Sheffield Wednesday's Ash Baker, right, does his best to halt Lincoln City's Matt Green at Sincil Bank (Picture: Steve Ellis).
Sheffield Wednesday's Ash Baker, right, does his best to halt Lincoln City's Matt Green at Sincil Bank (Picture: Steve Ellis).
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THIS summer has been an unusually quiet one at Sheffield Wednesday.

Apart from confirmation over the past week or so that Jordan Rhodes and Jack Hunt had both left precious little has been heard from a club who had previously spent big at this time of year under owner Dejphon Chansiri.

This, though, has clearly done little to sate the appetite of supporters if last night is anything to go by with so many Wednesdayites clamouring to watch the opening pre-season friendly that an area of Sincil Bank normally reserved for home supporters had to be colonised to satisfy demand.

Such devotion – the 2,812-strong visiting contingent made up almost half the crowd – was rewarded with a 1-0 win for Jos Luhukay’s men.

Fernando Forestieri’s strike early in the second half settled matters against Lincoln City on a balmy summer’s evening that had seen the two teams welcomed onto the field by the playing of the Dambuster theme tune over the PA system.

This nod to 617 Squadron’s base being in Lincolnshire should really have been followed by an aerial bombardment once the action got under way, but Sincil Bank got nothing of the sort.

In fact, the 5,846 crowd had little of anything at all to enjoy in an opening 45 minutes that had plenty of endeavour, but precious little quality.

Wednesday’s goalkeeper Kieren Westwood, making his first appearance since December, did have to push away a shot from Bruno Andrade.

Morgan Fox also headed over when found unmarked by an Adam Reach corner.

Otherwise, though, the first half was as anonymous as the home side who not only took to the field with no numbers on their shirts, but also had six of their nine substitutes listed on the team sheet as, ‘A Trialist, B Trialist, C Trialist...’ etc.

Matters improved after the break as Luhukay sending on the likes of Forestieri, Barry Bannan and Atdhe Nuhiu amid 11 interval changes added some much-needed urgency to the visitors’ play.

Forestieri, whose return from injury in the final month of last season did so much to pep up Wednesday for the run-in, duly broke the deadlock ten minutes after the restart.

Collecting a Liam Palmer cross that had cleared a scrum of players in the centre of the penalty area, the Argentinian took one touch before unleashing a right-footed shot that flew beyond Josh Vickers and into the bottom corner of the net.

Wednesday almost added a second 11 minutes from time when Joey Pelpuesy’s curled free-kick caused far more problems for the Imps’ defence than should have been the case, the relieved look on Vickers’s face as the ball dropped narrowly wide of his left-hand post telling its own story.

As the countdown continues to the new season the coming few weeks promise to be fascinating at Hillsborough. The need to comply with Financial Fair Play explains why this has been such a quiet summer for a club who smashed their record transfer in both 2016 and 2017.

Further departures are needed following those of Rhodes and Hunt if a breach of Football League rules is to be avoided, Championship clubs being allowed to lose £39m over a three-year period.

With Wednesday’s losses having doubled to a little over £20m in the 2016-17 campaign on the back of a huge rise in the wage bill their cloth has to be cut accordingly.

Hunt’s move to Bristol City for £1.6m will help in that respect, as will Norwich covering Rhodes’s entire £30,000-plus weekly wage during his season-long loan at Carrow Road. A welcome £1m loan fee has also been banked from the Canaries.

Nevertheless more cuts to a squad that became bloated under Luhukay’s predecessor Carlos Carvalhal will be needed if Wednesday are to comply with FFP. Luhukay’s job is to make the best of what he has left and the signs in the second half were sufficiently encouraging to suggest Wednesday may yet follow this deadly quiet summer by making plenty of noise in the Championship promotion race.