Centre-back pairing Sam Hutchinson and Tom Lees have been nothing short of sensational as Sheffield Wednesday have began their campaign with two clean sheets in their first two games and against two of the expected Championship front runners.
Last season saw glimpses of Hutchinson’s ability to play at centre-back after injury to Lees and Glenn Loovens gave Wednesday’s number 23 a chance to shine in the defensive line up of which he excelled.
Unfortunately a lacklustre display against Burton Albion on Tuesday evening ended Wednesday’s current clean sheet form whereby Hutchinson was paired up with defensive partner Jose Semedo in central defence due to injuries to Lees and Loovens.
Recent times as seen Hutchinson fall into a centre-back role due to an unfortunate injury to Loovens, who was ruled out for approximately six weeks back in July.
With Loovens expected to recover in the forthcoming weeks, manager Carlos Carvalhal has been given a welcomed headache against upcoming opposition.
Alongside Lees, Hutchinson has grown into the centre-back role often making key interceptions and winning aerial duels. His tackling and blocking also make up the best of his game, he also has the ability to play and take the ball forward as a natural midfielder would.
Discipline is one area that overshadows Hutchinson’s game having been booked excessively last season. On the flip side, Hutchinson’s aggression and commitment brings out the best in him. Sometimes branded as a ‘hard nut’ because he flies into tackles and makes rash decisions, for me makes Hutchinson a match winner.
Carvalhal certainly would not expect him to change his game. Every team needs a ball winner who may often pick up a yellow card. Hutchinson is our man.
Already this season, Hutchinson has had those ‘moments’ including a shirt pull in the box against Aston Villa and a 50/50 challenge in the penalty area against Norwich City, which on another day may have seen Wednesday conceding a spot kick. However, Wednesdayites wouldn’t swap Hutchinson for a gold pig. He just simply has too much to offer.
Injury also played a huge part in the 5ft 11in defender’s career, who was forced to retire back in 2010 after a re-occurring knee problem. After persuasion to return to the game in December 2011, Sam has kicked on and slowly but surely overcome any further long-term injury worry.
The former Chelsea youth player began his career at right-back before finding his feet as a defensive midfielder. Now playing at centre-back, Hutchinson has become a versatile player who can do more than a good job in any position.
As a valuable asset to the team, he has become a key player in the Wednesday squad, which boss Carvalhal will be reluctant to drop.
As a player who wears his heart on his sleeve, personally I think Hutchinson has found his rightful and best position at centre-back. Competition for places won’t be easy with Lees and Loovens usually expected to play in front of goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.
With Wednesday rumoured to be in the market for a much needed centre-back as cover, manager Carvalhal can sleep easy knowing he already has three well established centre-backs that are leaders and captains. Yet all three offer something different.
Conceding three goals against Burton however, proves the Owls are desperate for defensive cover and cannot rely on Lees, Loovens and Hutchinson to maintain their fitness throughout the course of the campaign.
Time for Carvalhal to make some decisions.