IT’s the penultimate game of the Championship season – and Wednesday boss Alan Irvine will be keen to make sure it’s not the penultimate game of the Owls’ stay in the division for a year at least.
The Owls will be favourites for the final relegation place into League 1 going into tomorrow’s match at play-off side Cardiff City.
Wednesday know that a victory is vital to make sure relegation isn’t possible as early as Monday night when Crystal Palace face already-promoted West Brom.
The Bluebirds may have already secured their spot in the top-six, but boss Dave Jones will be keen to make sure his men take some momentum into the play-offs.
Alan Irvine told the official SWFC website:
‘Cardiff are a good side, they don’t consider many goals and they are on a really good run at this moment in time. They have qualified for the play-offs and will be relaxed going into the game because they know that whatever happens, they are going to be in the play-offs.
‘Will they have an eye on the play-offs? Yes, of course they will, but at the same time, the players will know that they will have to play well enough to make sure they are selected for them.
‘You look around the Championship and what wouldn’t be a tricky trip? They are all hard games in this division. I’ve been working as a manager in the Championship for the last two and a half seasons and I’ve never gone anywhere where I’ve though my team is in for an easy game.’
Cardiff City Team News:
Bluebirds boss Dave Jones could well be tempted to make changes to his squad after securing their place in the play-offs.
Jones insists he’s keen to keen the momentum going into the end-of-season competition but could well rest some key players to avoid them picking up injury.
Darcy Blake is one man who could miss out in defence, with former Crystal Palace man Mark Hudson coming into the starting eleven.
Gavin Rae and Miguel Comminges are both out for the rest of the season but on-loan man Kelvin Etuhu could get a start to prove his worth ahead of the play-offs.
Player to watch: Peter Whittingham
Whittingham has been in top form for Cardiff all season and tops the goalscoring charts for the Championship, quite a surprise given the other top names within the Bluebirds squad. He’ll be aiming to continue that on Saturday and Wednesday will be well aware of his danger.
Wednesday Team News:
Boss Alan Irvine will have to decide whether to change his squad for the trip to Wales or stick with the same side that drew 1-1 with Sheffield United at the weekend.
He certainly has options, with midfielder Sean McAllister and defender Lewis Buxton both returning from injury and declaring themselves fit to face City.
Francis Jeffers is also an option to start after only making substitute appearances in recent weeks, as is winger Etienne Esajas.
The only injury concern for Wednesday this week was loanee Eddie Nolan, who picked up a knock against the Blades, but the PNE man is fit and ready to start in defence.
Tommy Miller is the only injury absentee for the Owls.
Player to watch: Jermaine Johnson
Johnson wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders against the Blades last weekend and Irvine, and the Wednesday faithful, will be expecting more from the jet-heeled Jamaican. His performance could be key in any Owls victory.
Match Facts & Stats
Cardiff wins: 22
Wednesday wins: 24
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 3-1 Cardiff
Wednesday eased to victory over the Bluebirds when they visited S6 earlier in the season. Etienne Esajas gave the Owls an early opener before Peter Whittingham responded from the spot. But a Luke Varney goal on the restart and a Leon Clarke strike ten minutes from time bagged Wednesday the points.
v Crystal Palace (H) – 2/5/10