This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sheffield Wednesday caretaker manager Lee Bullen will need to plan for their season opener without forward Fernando Forestieri who has been handed a six-match suspension, after being found guilty of using racist language by the FA’s independent regulatory commission, it has been confirmed on the club website.
The incident happened in a pre-season friendly last July between Wednesday and Mansfield, with Forestieri’s comments made towards Mansfield defender Krystian Pearce sparking a brawl on the pitch, and even though the 29-year-old was acquitted by magistrates in March of racially abusing Pearce, he was charged by the Football Association in June.
So how big a worry should it be for the Owls with Forestieri hit with a six-match ban?
“It is a massive worry.
“After a stuttering transfer window and all the off-pitch drama, the Owls really needed all of their star men to hit the ground running.
“To have one of them now potentially missing the first six matches of the season could prove a serious knock to their league standing.
“It puts immediate pressure on those other key figures to step-up their games even more, with it looking increasingly unlikely that many new faces will arrive.”
“It’s a huge concern for the Owls.
“Of course, he has maintained his innocence and it set to appeal but from a football perspective he would be seriously missed by Wednesday.
“They don’t really have a player like Forestieri in the squad, in that he can create something out of nothing, beat players and weighs in with goals and assists.
“He was nowhere near his best last season but if he can rediscover his top form then he is one of the better players in the entire league. He is someone they need fit and someone that they should be looking to build the side around this season and if the former Watford man misses six games it’s a big problem.”
“This looks to be a heavy blow for Sheffield Wednesday.
“Forestieri may not have been as much of a regular feature for Wednesday last season, but he still a useful option for Wednesday to have as he has shown, and the length of the ban means he they will be missing him for the whole of the first month of the season.
“Given the importance of making a strong start to the campaign, this will not help Wednesday’s situation, as they will want as many options available as possible, if only to help them cope with that heavy schedule at the start of the season, which will now not be the case with Forestieri’s absence.
“Considering the uncertainty there is around the club with regards to the managerial situation at Hillsborough, this fresh setback within the playing squad is something you feel Wednesday could well have done without.”