Kieran Lee has been an influential figure for Wednesday over recent seasons after being signed on a free transfer from Oldham Athletic. It was announced at the start of January that he would be out for a minimum of three months after undergoing hip surgery.
They have missed Lee in the centre of midfield and it has proved to have dealt a major blow in their quest to secure their place in the play-offs.
The Owls currently lie in sixth place and occupy the final spot in the play-offs. They are currently two points ahead of Fulham but the Cottagers have a game in hand and are on a good run of form. This is in contrast to Wednesday who have only won once in their last five league outings, albeit a 5-1 demolition of Norwich City.
A disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of struggling Aston Villa at the weekend means that the possibility of last season's beaten play-off finalists will not get a chance of redemption.
In January, Carlos Carvalhal bolstered his side's front line with the signings of Sam Winnall and Jordan Rhodes from Barnsley and Middlesbrough. The fee for Winnall is thought to have been just over £1 million with add-ons and Rhodes was signed on loan with his switch to Hillsborough being made permanent in the summer.
The signings can be justified by the injury to Gary Hooper, which left Wednesday with their forward options more limited. Injuries permitted, Wednesday would have six first team forwards on the books. Steven Fletcher, Atdhe Nuhiu and Fernando Forestieri are the other strikers vying for a place in Carvahal's team.
Goals are a crucial component for any successful side but Wednesday's decision not to invest in a short term replacement for Lee may ultimately cost them the chance of going one step further at Wembley.
The Owls do have options in midfield with the likes of Almen Abdi, David Jones, Jose Semedo and Sam Hutchinson who can operate in the same role. However, it has become clear that Wednesday have missed Lee's energy and ability to score goals from midfield. He was a first team regular this season and had started 23 league games and netted four times, despite his recurring hip problem.
Lee is expected to play some part of the season but Wednesday's fate may have already been decided by the time he has returned. With no possibility of signing a replacement, Carvalhal may have to adjust his tactics in a system that relies heavily on a box-to-box midfielder. If all else fails, he can only hope there is a player at his disposal who is ready to step up to the plate.
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