Sheffield Wednesday defender Sam Hutchinson has identified manager Darren Moore and former caretaker boss Neil Thompson as the reason why he has been able to retain his fitness since his Sheffield Wednesday return at the start of the year, speaking in an interview with The Star.
After spending six years at Hillsborough, the 32-year-old was released on the expiration of his contract last summer after only playing for the club semi-regularly due to injuries, signing for Cypriot outfit Pafos briefly before re-joining the Owls in January.
For Hutchinson, this injury record was nothing new after initially retiring at the age of 21 when he plied his trade at Chelsea due to persistent knee problems, before eventually returning to football.
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But since his return to Wednesday, the defender, who can also operate as a central midfielder, has been a regular under former caretaker manager Neil Thompson and current boss Darren Moore.
During the second half of the 2020/21 campaign, he made 22 Championship appearances despite not being able to keep the Owls afloat in the second tier, before being one of the first names on the teamsheet this term up until the game against Fleetwood Town in the middle of last month when he was forced to come off at half-time with a knock.
This forced him to miss the last two games against Rotherham United and Morecambe, although the League One side’s postponed match against Sunderland last weekend has seemingly given the 32-year-old the chance to recover, because he’s in contention to make the matchday 18 for the match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park this Saturday (3pm).
This recent absence has been a blip in what has been a relatively injury-free return to South Yorkshire for Hutchinson thus far – and he had two key men to thank for this in an interview with the Sheffield Star.
He said: “The reason I’ve been able to do that is because I’ve been managed properly… Since Carlos (Carvalhal), I was made to train every day and play every game – sometimes my body can’t do that, it’s just the way it is.
“But Thommo (Neil Thompson) knows me inside out, so he looked after me straight away. I’m a man about it, so when I needed to have a rest then I’d do that. And it’s the same with the gaffer – it’s the best thing about him.
“He looks after people that need it. He gives a kick up the bum to players that if they need it. He knows what he’s doing, can read people, and that’s a great quality to have as a leader and a manager.”
A word needs to be saved for Neil Thompson who has brought the reliable defender back to Hillsborough and managed to keep him fit – and considering how well the duo know each other – he probably couldn’t have asked for a better man to bring him in knowing his injury record. It just goes to show how important man management is in a physical sense as well as a mental one.
After enduring a largely unsuccessful, short spell out in Cyprus, Thompson may just have been the man to save a very good player’s career. Injuries aside, Hutchinson is still a fantastic asset to have in the third tier despite not fulfilling the potential he showed at Chelsea in his earlier playing days.
Fair play to Darren Moore as well. No one seems to have a bad word to say about the 47-year-old – and this is the reason why many people think he will get the very best out of former West Bromwich Albion talisman Saido Berahino.
If he can get him fit and firing – and keep Hutchinson fit in the backline with Chey Dunkley as a backup – you certainly wouldn’t rule Sheffield Wednesday out of the race for promotion.
This would be a remarkable achievement considering the state they were in earlier in the summer.