Sheffield Wednesday v Derby County: Owls boss Luhukay having to battle shortage of time and players

Jos Luhukay: Is still waiting for his first Championship win as Sheffield Wednesday's manager.
Jos Luhukay: Is still waiting for his first Championship win as Sheffield Wednesday's manager.
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MANAGER Jos Luhukay says his first five weeks at the helm of Sheffield Wednesday have been tougher than expected.

The Dutchman is hoping to claim a first league victory tonight at the sixth attempt as Derby County head to Hillsborough.

Against Derby we maybe have the situation where we must have players from the Under-23s. I am not unhappy with the situation, I must handle it.

Jos Luhukay

A lengthy injury list has left the Owls down to the bare bones since Luhukay succeeded Carlos Carvalhal during the first week of 2018.

“Yes, of course,” he replied when asked if the job had been more demanding than first anticipated.

“I must always go to my team and the team is very small. Every time I have only 12 or 13 players and the rest is from the Under-23s. You must always look at which players are 100 per cent.

“What I have is a lot of players who have not played much in the last six months. We have now a very intensive programme, playing five games in two weeks.

“It is not easy for the players to be 100 per cent when in three days we have another game. We played Saturday (at Barnsley), then have two days to recover. Then on Tuesday we play another game and then three days after that we play in the FA Cup.

“We have a lot of games and it is very hard for the players.”

Luhukay’s five league games in charge have yielded four draws and a home defeat to Birmingham City. The most recent of those stalemates came on Saturday at Oakwell where Oli McBurnie cancelled out Atdhe Nuhiu’s early penalty.

That was only the second goal Wednesday have scored in the league under Luhukay, who says the rapid turnover of games together with the extensive injury list are hampering his attempts to work with the squad on the training pitch.

“You have only one or two training (sessions) to prepare the players for tactics and also how we want to play,” he said. “It is very short in time. Also, I have been here for five weeks and seven times we have not been able to train on the field.

“On Sunday, we could not train because the rain was too hard in the night and there was too much water. Yesterday, there was snow on the field. It is not always the 100 per cent situation, but it is how it is.

“We have to be positive about that and we must believe in our situation and what we can do against Derby.”

Glenn Loovens, Daniel Pudil and Jack Hunt all return to the squad to face Derby, but Keiren Westwood may face surgery to cure the groin problem that has kept the goalkeeper out for the past two months.

There is brighter news on the way for Luhukay, however, with Gary Hooper, Sam Hutchinson and Almen Abdi edging closer to a return to training following spells out injured.

“We have a lot of problems,” added the Owls chief. “Everyone knows that.

“On Saturday we had three or four players from the Under-23s. (Jordan) Thorniley played from the beginning, and Jack Stobbs and Frederick Neilson came into the game.

“Against Derby we maybe have the situation where we must have players from the Under-23s. I am not unhappy with the situation, I must handle it.”

As frustrating as his first five weeks have been at times, Luhukay firmly believes that the first victory of his reign is imminent.

“When I have not a good feeling I will say that,” added the Owls chief.

“But the team and the players give me every day the trust that we are very close to winning games.

“That is what we like to do. Hopefully, it will be against Derby.”

Last six games: Sheffield Wednesday WDWDLD Derby County LWDDWD

Referee: D Coote (West Yorkshire).

Last time: Sheffield Wednesday 2 Derby County 1; April 22, 2017; Championship.