Dave Jones’s return to former club Cardiff City could not have come at a more difficult time when he takes his out-of-form Owls side to Wales on Sunday.
The Bluebirds, where Jones departed in 2011 following six years in the Welsh capital, are flying high at the top of the Championship going into this weekend’s matches and could be out to regain that spot come Sunday if other results do not go their way on Saturday.
In contrast, Wednesday have lost their last five matches – including a 4-1 home thumping by Watford in midweek – and find themselves in the relegation zone with pressure mounting on their manager.
It would be ironic, therefore, if defeat against City put the nail in Jones’s managerial coffin at S6. It’s another massive game for Jones, and Wednesday, in their battle to stay in the division.
Owls boss Dave Jones told the official SWFC website:
“I was there for six years and I had a lot of success and some good times but it wouldn`t matter if I was there for 20 years because all I want this weekend is three points for Sheffield Wednesday.
“They are the club that I work for, who employ me to do a job, and Sheffield Wednesday are my concern on Sunday.
“It doesn`t bother me one way or the other what kind of reception I receive because I am completely focused on the job I have to do here, as we all are.
“We have a difficult game but we are going there to win. I have never managed a team thinking we are going to lose.
“We have a good group of players here and we are capable of beating anyone in this division. I will defend them to the hilt.”
Cardiff City Team News:
The Bluebirds will go into the clash looking to make it ten successive wins on home soil and will be boosted by the likely return of four players through injury.
Kevin McNaughton (thigh), Ben Turner (hamstring), Andrew Taylor (calf) and Don Cowie (knee) all missed the draw at Derby County in midweek but should be ready for a return against the Owls.
Tommy Smith has also returned to training following a hamstring injury but the visit of Wednesday could come too soon, while striker Nicky Maynard is definitely ruled out with a knee injury.
Player to watch: Peter Whittingham
Heidar Helguson may be the Bluebirds’ top-scorer so far this season but Whittingham is not far behind with seven, and produces plenty more in the way of assists, as well as being a big threat from set-pieces.
Wednesday Team News:
If Wednesday’s current poor form was bad enough, they may receive further bad news on the injury front ahead of the trip to Wales.
Jay Bothroyd has not missed a match since making the loan switch to Hillsborough from QPR but he could miss out on a return to face his former club with an ankle injury.
Also struggling for fitness is Anthony Gardner and Lewis Buxton, both with hamstring problems, and midfielder Rhys McCabe with an ankle problem. All four players will undergo late fitness tests.
Jones could be boosted by the return of striker Chris O’Grady, however. The powerful forward is Wednesday’s joint top-scorer this season with five goals.
Player to watch: Michail Antonio
Wednesday’s only real threat in this baron run of games, the former Reading man will need to be at the top of his game to help Wednesday secure anything from their visit to Wales.
Match Facts & Stats
Cardiff wins: 23
Wednesday wins: 24
Last Time Out:
Cardiff 3-2 Wednesday
The Cardiff City Stadium, 24/4/2010
Jay Bothroyd scored twice for the Bluebirds last time the sides net as City edged a five-goal thriller. Peter Whittingham also netted for the hosts while Jermaine Johnson and Marcus Tudgay offered the replies for the visitors.
v Bristol City (H) – 8/12/12
v Barnsley (A) – 15/12/12