Atdhe Nuhiu’s value to Sheffield Wednesday should be measured in more than goals, according to boss Carlos Carvalhal.
The 26-year-old ended his barren streak in front of goal in the Owls’ hard-fought FA Cup triumph over Fulham.
It was Nuhiu’s fourth goal of the campaign and his first strike in 16 matches. Twelve of the striker’s 27 outings have come as a substitute, with Carvalhal frequently choosing to rotate his forward line.
Although Nuhiu has failed to find the back of the net on a consistent basis, the Portuguese head coach insists he has a lot to offer the side.
“Atdhe hadn’t scored for a while but he works hard, wins a lot of balls in the air and disturbs the opponents,” he told The Star. “He opens spaces for his colleagues.
“As many as two or three defenders have ended up marking him in some games. That’s why Fernando [Forestieri] and Gary Hooper have space to create goals because of this kind of work.
“Atdhe is not playing all the time but is playing often because he is an important player.”
With Hooper denied permission to play by his parent club Norwich City and Forestieri unavailable for selection due to an injury, Carvalhal opted to play Modou Sougou up front alongside Lucas Joao.
“If I had played Atdhe from the start, we would not have had a player ready for Tuesday (against Bolton),” he said. “We felt the best way to manage Atdhe was to put him on the bench as we didn’t have Fernando or Gary. We knew if we needed some more energy we had Atdhe to put on in the second half.”
He is optimistic leading goal-scorer Forestieri and Hooper, who has picked up a knock, will in the frame to play tomorrow night.
“Fernando had a small problem but I hope we can recover him for Tuesday,” added Carvalhal.
“If we had played him against Fulham, we would have taken a risk and we don’t want to lose players.
“Gary couldn’t play and he also had a small problem. Even if we had could have played him, we wouldn’t have done. We believe he will be ready for Tuesday.