Wednesday will have a tough task on their hands as they travel to the Riverside Stadium to face an in-form Middlesbrough side that will go top of the Championship with victory tonight.
Tony Mowbray’s men are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions and sit second going into tonight’s televised match and will be eager to make that nine to take top-spot for 24 hours at least.
Wednesday will be out to bounce back from their 2-0 home loss against Blackpool in midweek and regain the form that saw them second back-to-back wins before that, including a comprehensive 3-0 win in their last away match at Ipswich Town.
Owls boss Dave Jones told the Sheffield Star:
“It will be a fantastic atmosphere – we should thrive on that as well. We`ll take a lot of fans. Middlesbrough are at the top end; if we`re regarded as an attraction (for TV), we must be doing okay. We`re not going to lie down. We want to do well.
“They`ll probably come out like a house on fire. Friday-night games always seem to be a bit special – this is no different.
“We know how difficult it`s going to be and what we`ve got to do.
“I would be very disappointed if any player at this club wasn`t up for this. It`s what we have worked so hard for.’
Tony Mowbray told the official Boro website:
‘We need to give the players some inspiration and we occasionally use some words or pictures to show them how important every game is. I think this group of players have it within them to keep rising to the next challenge.
‘My job is to paint a picture of the threats that Sheffield Wednesday pose to ensure there’s no complacency. So long as we don’t think, ‘It’s Sheffield Wednesday, bottom half of the table, playing at home, with a big crowd – we’ll just turn up and win’
Middlesbrough Team News:
Boro are unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions and could be further boosted with the return of some key players.
Defender Jonathan Woodgate should be given the green light to feature, while Marvin Emnes, Ishmael Miller and Kevin Thomson all returned to full training this week to put their hand up for selection.
Stuart Parnaby should also be fit to feature after recovering from a groin injury that forced him off in the stalemate at Nottingham Forest.
Other than that Boro have no fresh injury or suspension concerns for the clash.
Player to watch: Grant Leadbitter
The heartbeat of the team, Leadbitter will be looking to help orchestrate another Boro victory to take his side top of the table for 24 hours at least.
Wednesday Team News:
Owls boss Dave Jones will hand a late fitness test to midfielder Paul Corry, who’s been sidelined with an ankle injury.
Corry was forced off early in the Owls’ 2-1 win over Peterborough United at the weekend and Rhys McCabe took his place in the midweek defeat against Blackpool.
Jones has no other fresh injury concerns but he could opt to rest certain players with this being the third game in less than a week for Wednesday. Anthony Gardner could be one player rested, with Martin Taylor his likely replacement at the back.
Player to watch: Ross Barkley
Wednesday will probably need some magic to get anything from on-song Boro but in Everton loan star Ross Barkley they can certainly pull a rabbit from the hat. He’s bagged three goals in the Owls’ last three games, too.
Match Facts & Stats
Boro wins: 39
Wednesday wins: 42
Last Time Out:
Boro 1-0 Wednesday
The Riverside Stadium, 10/04/2010
Scott McDonald’s strike five minutes before half-time gave Boro all three points the last time the sides locked horns.
v Nottingham Forest (A) – 17/11/12
v Leicester City (H) – 24/11/12