Wednesday face their first of three vital clashes in a week on Saturday as they return to league action and travel to Pride Park to take on Billy Davies’ high-flying Derby County side. (kick-off 3pm)
The Owls travel to Manchester City in midweek as they attempt to progress to the FA Cup Fourth Round while fellow-promotion hopefuls Sunderland make the trip south to Hillsborough next weekend – and Laws will be hoping to get the week off to a fine start by picking up points on Saturday.
Brian Laws told the official SWFC site:
‘They attack very well and I know Craig Fagan has done well against Sheffield Wednesday in the past. But although they haven’t conceded many, defensively they look weak at times. I believe they will be more worried about us than we are about them – is that why they’ve gone out and spent £4m?’
Billy Davies told the official DCFC site:
‘We never take our focus away from the match as we know the importance of it. With the position we are in we know we have to be up for each and every battle that comes along. We’ve got a great bunch of lads here and we’re now looking forward to the remainder of the season.’
Derby County Team News:
Derby boss Billy Davies has a welcome selection headache going in to the clash with Wednesday following the January transfer window signings of Gary Teale, Stephen Pearson and Craig Fagan, as well as the permanent deal for former Manchester United midfielder David Jones.
All three are likely to play against an Owls side who have yet to sign anyone during the period, with Fagan set to feature against Brian Laws’ men for the second consecutive league match.
Defender Dean Leacock is pushing for a recall to the starting line-up after being rested but Paul Boertien and midfielder Tom Cumberworth are both out with knee injuries.
Player to watch: Arturo Lupoli
The Italian has been a major hit at Pride Park – and is one of the reasons the Rams are doing so well this season – since his arrival in the summer from Arsenal, and netted the first hat-trick by a Derby player for over ten years in the clubs 3-1 FA Cup victory over Wrexham last week. Wednesday have yet to see him in action after he was suspended for the reverse at Hillsborough.
Wednesday Team News:
Owls manager Brian Laws will have a big decision on his hands over whether to recall defender Madjid Bougherra to the team after the Algerian international was suspended for last Sunday’s FA Cup visit of Manchester City.
Bougherra has been unsettled with transfer speculation of a move to either Charlton Athletic or Reading, and Laws would well stick with Graham Coughlan at the back alongside Lee Bullen.
Striker David Graham is available for selection again after returning from his loan spell at Bradford City, while Wade Small could make a return on the right wing after making a substitute appearance last Sunday.
Player to watch: Chris Brunt
Brunt has been in top form of late and will be a big threat to the Rams defence on Saturday. The Northern Irish international is the Owls top scorer, and also the top-scoring midfielder in the division – and the Owls will certainly need him to be in top-form if they are to get anything from the game on Saturday.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday 1-2 Derby – 23/09/06, Hillsborough.
Wednesday were left kicking themselves as they threw away the lead to fall to defeat against ten-man County. Chris Brunt gave Wednesday the lead before Paul Peschisolido levelled and Steve Howard netted a last-gasp winner to send the Rams hold with all three points.
Wednesday: Crossley; Simek, Bullen, Coughlan, Spurr; Tudgay (Small 76), Whelan, Lunt, Brunt; MacLean, Burton. Subs Not Used: Adamson, O’Brien, Folly, Beevers.
Derby: Bywater, Edworthy, Moore, Michael Johnson, Camara, Bisgaard (Barnes 76), Malcolm (Smith 70), Oakley (Peschisolido 90), Jones, Lupoli, Howard. Subs Not Used: Jackson, Seth Johnson.
Wednesday wins: 41
Derby wins: 40
Form – Last 5:
Owls win: 3/1
Derby win: 5/6
Other Championship Matches:
West Brom v Luton
Barnsley v Preston
Birmingham v Leeds
Cardiff v Southend
Colchester v Leicester
Coventry v Crystal Palace
Hull v QPR
Norwich v Plymouth
Southampton v Burnley
Stoke v Wolverhampton
Sunderland v Ipswich
West Brom v Luton
Vs Manchester City (A) FA Cup 3rd Round Replay – 16/01/07
Vs Sunderland (H) – 20/01/07
Vs Southampton (A) – 31/01/07