Ross McCormack could have been stepping out on the Hillsborough turf today in the blue and white stripes of Sheffield Wednesday if things had turned out differently in the summer.
The Owls were rebuffed in an ambitious £10m bid for the Fulham striker as owner Dejphon Chansiri looked to build a squad capable of returning to the Premier League.
The former Leeds United striker is integral to Fulham’s own hopes of promotion, though, meaning a return to the north was always unlikely.
One player who knows McCormack’s quality is Owls defender Michael Turner, having played alongside the 29-year-old during a loan spell at Craven Cottage last season.
Turner, who made his debut in Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw at Bolton Wanderers after arriving on loan from Norwich City, is a big fan of the Scotland striker.
“Ross McCormack is a threat, a good goal-scorer, so he is a player we will have to keep locked down,” said Turner.
“It will be my first game at Hillsborough and I am very much looking forward to it.”
The need for a centre-forward at Wednesday, which saw the Owls linked with a host of strikers over the summer, still persists. Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal did bring in Fernando Forestieri for £3m from Watford and he impressed in his first two games at Bolton and Burnley without finding the net.
But those encouraging performances brought only a solitary point, mainly due to Wednesday’s lack of cutting edge in front of goal.
Having watched from the bench at Turf Moor, and his debut at Bolton, Turner has seen enough over those two games to predict wins will come.
“I was pleased with how Tuesday went, keeping a clean sheet was very pleasing,” said the 31-year-old. “It was my first game in seven weeks, it was good to get the first game out of the way.
“As a defender, you want to keep as many clean sheets as you possibly can over the season, so to get one in my first game is a confidence-booster not only for me, but for the team. They are vital to draw and win games.
“I hadn’t played a game in seven weeks, so my match fitness was probably a little bit short when I first came in. I trained for two weeks with the team, so it was good to bed in and get to know everyone.
“I played 90 minutes at Bolton, felt very strong in the game, and, hopefully, going into the next game, I will feel stronger for it.
“I was with pleased how we played, created numerous chances, and good opportunities to score. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be on the night. We felt disappointed coming away from the game that we hadn’t won.
“As a team, if we keep creating those chances in games, it’s only a matter of time before we start scoring and getting points on the board.
“Maybe we need a little bit of luck. But if we keep doing what we have been doing, in the last two games I have been part of, things will come good.
“In both games, we could have come away with six points. One is disappointing but the performance levels were pleasing and we need to keep doing what we have been doing.”
Turner, Forestieri, Barry Bannan, and left-back Daniel Pudil are set to make their Hillsborough debuts today, the four latest additions which has seen 15 new players arrive since the summer.
“With so many players coming in, a huge turnaround, plus a new management team, it was always going to take time to settle down,” said Turner, who spent three years at Hull City between 2006-09.
“Hopefully, over the next few weeks things will settle down and the fans will see the results on the pitch.
“The manager is a key figure, and everything is still new. We are all still learning, especially me, but are trying to listen and make things work.
“It’s still early days, we have shown signs of some good play in the last two games. If we can keep things going, I am sure we can turn it around.”
Wednesday have a healthy-looking squad this season, which has meant players like Lewis McGugan have not even made the match-day squad for the last two games. McGugan will return today, though, and Turner revealed all the players are fighting for their places.
“I have really enjoyed my time here, the three weeks have gone really quickly,” he said. “The lads have been welcoming, and are a good bunch of players. There’s great team spirit and it’s been easy to settle down.
“I have had to wait, which is the way the manager wanted to do it, but I am prepared to work hard and try to earn my place in the team.
“There’s a big squad here and a lot of players fighting for places. It’s good healthy competition. Anyone who is not playing gets frustrated, we are all football players.”
Turner actually played at Hillsborough twice last season for different clubs. He was in the Norwich side which drew 0-0, then in Fulham’s defence for their 1-1 draw – one of nine games he played during two months with the London club.
He expects the Craven Cottage side to be challenging for the play-offs this term.
“Fulham have made quite a few additions to the squad, and bought some good players,” he said. “I think they have picked up the last few games, picked up a couple of wins, and will go into the game full of confidence.
“But we are at home and will show what we are about, continue to put in the performance levels from the last two games. I am confident we can get a result.
“I am just looking forward to build on my first game on Tuesday.”