THIS is it – four games to go, each one as big as the other as Wednesday look for crucial points to help maintain their Championship status.
First up is a trip to Middlesbrough, and a side who still have an outside chance of a play-off spot thanks to a recent upturn in form – Wednesday certainly won’t be getting an easy ride from Gordon Strachan’s men at The Riverside.
A point could lift the Owls out of the bottom three if Watford fall to defeat in their match this weekend, although all three would give Wednesdayites a huge boost as the season reaches its climax.
Defeat would leave the Owls with a huge mountain to climb though – it’s unthinkable for Owls fans going into the game.
Alan Irvine told the official SWFC website:
‘We have to try and win, that is for sure. You can’t go to a place like Middlesbrough and be completely wide open but you have to make sure you have a threat.
‘But that can be done from having a good shape and being solid. We’re not scoring enough goals but we are creating chances.
‘We had 25 attempts on goal against Bristol City but we didn’t score any goals. You would expect to score at least one if not two goals from that number.’
Gordon Strachan told the official Boro website:
‘We want to win every game,’ Strachan said. ‘In fact, I think we need to win all four remaining games if we are to reach the play-offs. If we do that then I think we’ll be close – very close.
He continued: ‘Sheffield Wednesday are desperate for points and will do anything they can on Saturday,’ said Strachan. ‘I don’t expect them to play flowing football or to play the beautiful game, which is understandable.’
Middlesbrough Team News:
Boro boss Strachan will be keeping everything crossed that Andrew Taylor is fit to return after being forced off injured in their game against Crystal Palace with a stomach strain.
Emanuel Pogatetz will still be sidelined with a knee problem though, which could keep him out for the remainder of the campaign.
Midfielder Gary O’Neil could well return to the squad after he was left out of the trip to Plymouth last time out – due to ‘financial reasons’ as part of his move from Portsmouth.
Other than that, Boro will have no fresh injury or suspension concerns and expected to stick with a similar squad that won 2-0 at Argyle on Easter Monday.
Player to watch: Leroy Lita
The former Reading striker hasn’t exactly been prolific for Boro, but he’ll no doubt be a big threat to the Owls defence as he looks to fire his side to three points which could give them an outside chance of sneaking into the play-off spots.
Wednesday Team News:
Boss Alan Irvine will be hoping that star man Jermaine Johnson is fit and ready to return to action at The Riverside tomorrow.
Johnson played, and had a big influence, in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at QPR on Saturday but wasn’t fit enough for inclusion in the squad that fell to defeat against Bristol City on Easter Monday/
It’s like JJ will get the nod, for a place in the squad at least, and that will be a big a big boost for Wednesday.
Defender Lewis Buxton will also have a late fitness test for the clash but he may have to settle for a place on the bench.
The Owls have no fresh injury or suspension concerns for the trip to Boro.
Player to watch: Jermaine Johnson
Johnson’s return, if passed fit, will be a huge boost to the Owls. His pace and trickery are a big part of the Owls’ attacking threat and without him, the Owls look bland and have few creative ideas. It showed at QPR in his substitute appearance, and it could show at Boro.
Match Facts & Stats
Boro wins: 38
Wednesday wins: 42
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 1-3 Boro
Luke Varney gave the Owls a super start with a second minute opener, only for the visitors to battle back to bag the three points at S6. A Darren Purse own goal levelled things before Jeremie Aliadiere and Adam Johnson added further goals to seal the win.
v Sheffield United (H) – 18/4/10
v Cardiff City (A) – 24/4/10