Sheffield Wednesday’s Theo Corbeanu sees patient approach pay off with winning start at Hillsborough

Theo Corbeanu was talked through his impressive first senior start in club football by Darren Moore and Marvin Johnson.

The Canada forward was surprisingly picked at left wing-back for his full League One debut and responded by steering a curling shot into the far corner of the net to open the scoring for Sheffield Wednesday after just 11 minutes at Hillsborough. It set the tone for a 3-0 win over Sunderland.

It was an unfamiliar position to Corbeanu but with the Owls attacking the Leppings Lane End, being on the left meant he was close to manager Moore, providing defensive coaching, and behind him was Johnson, a winger by trade playing on the left of a back three.

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“(Moore) talked me through it on the training ground but also in the game,” revealed Corbeanu.

“He was constantly speaking to me and I think part of the reason he might have put me on the left was so he could give me that information which was very much needed.

“He gave out specific instructions to Marvin to give me constant instructions.

“The defensive side of my game is the part I need to work on. Going forward is good, it can be better, but defensively is the area where I need most work.”

Corbeanu is on a season-long loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers but having been sent out to get games, he has had to be patient. When he joined he never thought his first start would come at wing-back.

INCH-PERFECT: Theo Corbeanu curls in Sheffield Wednesday'smopening goal in the 3-0 win over Sunderland. Picture: Steve Ellis

“No chance!” he smiled. “It’s only the second time I’ve played wing-back in my whole career, including academy. I found out in match prep, in training.

“A big thing as a player coming from academy football is patience and waiting for your chance.

“I’ve done a lot of work on my finishing and building on my strengths but also I need to work on out of possession. That’s going to define me as a player. I’ve done a lot of one-on-ones, getting at my man, being dangerous.

“Playing this 3-5-2 you need to be really disciplined. It’s a lot of running. It was quite challenging for me, but from a team perspective it’s a great win.”

Sheffield Wednesday's Theo Corbeanu gets a hand shake from Owls boss Darren Moore after he is substituted in the 3-0 win over Sunderland on Tuesday. Picture: Steve Ellis

There were nearly 24,000 at Hillsborough on Tuesday and it lived up to the 19-year-old’s expectations.

“It’s very surreal,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming about that my whole life.

“I knew when my first league start came I had to take it and I knew I would enjoy it. If you don’t take it, you might be on the bench or you might not get another game in the near future.

“I thought I’d be more nervous. The build-up to the game, I have to say there were a few nerves but I’m just looking to build on this.

Sheffield Wednesday's Marvin Johnson leant a helping hand to Theo Corbeanu on Tuesday against Sunderland. Picture: Steve Ellis

“I was planning a celebration but I just did something weird because I couldn’t control my emotions, it was weird.”

Manager Moore has been criticised in some quarters for waiting so long to give Corbeanu his chance – his only previous involvement had been five substitute appearances and a couple of Football League Trophy starts –but explained why.

“When he arrived off international duty he went down sick,” said Moore. “Physically it took a lot out of him, but once he got back he’s been doing some incredible work in training, and Tuesday was the night for him.

“That performance would not have been anywhere near with where he was a month or two months ago, so credit to him for the work he’s been doing, and for his patience. We’ve been waiting for the right time, and we just thought the way he came on on Saturday (at Cheltenham Town), it was right to start him against Sunderland.

“The biggest thing was getting him to understand the difference between the wing-back role and being an out-and-out winger. Yes, he can play his game in the wide position but also there’s work off the ball and I thought he was excellent in that.”

Unsurprisingly, Corbeanu went off with cramp late in the game but the Owls’ only real concern ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup first-round tie at home to Plymouth Argyle was a foot injury to Barry Bannan.