It’s not often that one of your leading scorers doesn’t make the starting XI but that has been the case for Callum Paterson at Sheffield Wednesday recently.
The 26-year-old utility man has found the net eight times in all competitions this season, a feat only bettered by Josh Windass at Hillsborough, who currently sits on nine goals. However, despite the lanky Scotsman having such a crucial part to play in the Owls’ fortunes, he has only started one of their last three league outings.
The Owls most recently defeated Blackburn Rovers to give their survival hopes a major boost, although they still remain four points adrift of 21st with only three matches left to play, including Saturday’s trip to Middlesbrough.
Boro are a side against whom Paterson caused trouble earlier in the campaign, bagging the opener after some nice work from Liam Palmer down the right flank.
Wednesday manager Darren Moore may not have been in the dugout on Tuesday night but he opted for Jordan Rhodes to lead the line instead of Paterson, and whilst they won, his fellow countryman struggled to impose much of an influence on the match.
As per SofaScore, the 31-year-old failed to register a single shot in 75 minutes of action and had the fewest touches of any Owls player to start the match, so swapping him out for Paterson could be an easy change to make at the Riverside for Moore.
‘What Paterson has demonstrated when he has lined up in the centre is that he is capable or breaking in between the lines and causing havoc in the final third,’ he wrote. ‘He takes up good positions and gives Wednesday extra steel and physicality in the department alongside Barry Bannan and Sam Hutchinson.’
The £17,000-per-week dynamo was once lauded by this weekend’s opposition manager Neil Warnock, under whom he worked at Cardiff. The managerial veteran said in March 2018: “Paterson has that ability to score goals from nowhere, he reads things and he’s irreplaceable at the moment.”
They also waxed lyrical about him at Hearts, with his former Jam Tarts teammate Jack Hamilton saying: “Everyone can see how good Callum is in the air and his goal threat. He’s got everything. He works hard on and off the park and eats the right things. He’s got experience now.”
In terms of consistency, Paterson is up there among the Owls’ best, managing an average WhoScored rating of 6.7, which is only bettered by three other players and two are defenders.
Both Josh Windass and Rhodes are way below that output. The 26-year-old is also firing off more attempts at goal (1.1 per game) than his fellow Scot (0.8), and in a match where the Owls need to find the net – potentially more than once – it would make sense to start the player who is more willing to have a go.
On the above evidence, Moore simply has to unleash the “brave” Paterson on Saturday afternoon – it could be a game-changing call.