Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal explains Lucas Joao's inclusion against Cardiff

SWFC Stadium

The forward had not started for the Championship side since their draw with Ipswich last month.

Carlos Carvalhal has explained that Lucas Joao was included in the starting line-up for Sheffield Wednesday's crucial clash with Cardiff City at the weekend to create spaces for Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper, the Sheffield Star reports.

The Portuguese had made just 13 starts in the Championship before Saturday's game, with his other 25 appearances all coming from the bench, but Carvalhal made the decision to start the 22-year-old ahead of the likes of Atdhe Nuhiu and Marco Matias for the game against the Bluebirds that promised to have major implications for their play-off hopes.

And Carvalhal offered the reasoning behind the selection call, and suggested that he felt vindicated following the game.

"We decided to go with Lucas because we needed to open spaces on the defensive line," he told the Star. "We wanted to open spaces in the middle for Fernando and Gary to exploit and Lucas did very well."

Though Joao was unable to get onto the scoresheet at Hillsborough, his presence appeared to help the Owls secure the three points that confirmed their sixth-place finish with one game of the regular season to go.

It was his pressure that forced Lee Peltier to put the ball through his own net to double Wednesday's lead and essentially confirm that Carvalhal's men would be in the play-offs, before Gary Hooper rounded off the scoring shortly after the Portuguese had been taken off. 

And his performance against Cardiff will surely have given the Owls boss confidence that he could have a role to play during their play-off campaign, and could ultimately help the side secure promotion.  

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch