Four games, four must-wins. That’s the deal if Wednesday are to stand a chance of leapfrogging neighbours Sheffield United to achieve automatic promotion from League One this season.
It starts on Saturday with a not-so-easy visit to Colchester United. The Owls’ penultimate away match of the season.
United host Leyton Orient at Bramall Lane and although the pressure has been at the Blades’ feet to retain their top-two spot, it’ll very much be back on Dave Jones and his side to continue hot-on-the-heels after this weekend’s games.
The U’s have little but pride to play for now and they haven’t won since the start of March – but that win came against leaders Charlton Athletic, proving they can mix it with the big boys.
Owls defender Miguel Llera told the official SWFC website:
‘We know that every game from here on in is a cup final and we need to win each one in order to keep the pressure on Sheffield United.
‘We need the support from the fans, now more than ever, to give us the best possible chance of promotion.’
U’s boss John Ward told the official Colchester website:
‘This is the best game we could have had after Monday’s performance.
‘I say ‘bring it on’, this is a great fixture for us and I want to get going and take it on.
‘We have been very organised against teams up at the top of the table and we have picked up good results by nullifying their key men.
‘I want us to be disciplined and organised, and we’ve got the capabilities to stop a good opponent and find ways to beat them.
‘Sheffield Wednesday will be ruthless, they’ve got a massive contest with Sheffield United, which is a massive contest in its own right around the city.’
Colchester United Team News:
The U’s will be desperate to bounce back from their 4-1 thrashing at lowly Bury on Monday and will see a home clash against the high-flying Owls as the perfect opportunity to do just that.
They’ve been the league’s draw specialists of late, drawing seven of their last nine games (and losing the other two), something which won’t do for Wednesday in their push for a top-two spot.
Their recent run of results has seen their play-off chances come to an end, but Colchester will still be a tough nut to crack for Wednesday.
Martin Rowlands will definitely miss the match with a hamstring injury, and boss John Ward could make a number of changes to the side that lost at Bury as he looks for his men to finish the season strongly.
Player to watch: Freddie Sears
Sears may have only scored just one league goal since joining Colchester on-loan from West Ham United, but he’ll still be keen to impress – especially against one of the division’s big clubs.
Wednesday Team News:
Owls boss Dave Jones could opt for ‘same again’ after Wednesday saw off Oldham Athletic 3-0 last time out.
Reda Johnson will definitely be out with a thigh injury, and unconfirmed reports suggest the defender could be out for the rest of the season. Johnson suffered the injury in the victory at Huddersfield Town and Julian Bennett is set to continue in his place.
Lewis Buxton will be given a late fitness test but Wednesday are hoping he’ll be ready for the trip south. If not, Mark Beevers, who came on to replace Buxton against Oldham, is likely to the nod to play in defence.
Skipper Rob Jones is fit and available for a return to action but Jones may well stick with the successful centre-back pairing of Danny Batth and Miguel Llera.
Ryan Lowe will also be pushing for a return after scoring with one of his first touches as a substitute against the Latics.
Player to watch: Miguel Llera
Llera should continue at centre-back on current form. He’s linked superbly with Danny Batth in defence. Not only that, but he’s chipped in with some crucial goals – and assists – in the last two games.
Match Facts & Stats
Colchester wins: 8
Wednesday wins: 6
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 2-0 Colchester
The Owls eased to victory at Hillsborough earlier in the season. Second-half strikes from Rob Jones and Reda Johnson proved enough to give the hosts three points.
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