MILAN Mandaric will make his first appearance at Hillsborough since agreeing to takeover the Owls when Bristol Rovers visit in npower League One tomorrow, Saturday.
Mandaric won’t be official owner of the club until after next week’s EGM, but the visit of the Pirates will give him his first taste of what being chairman of Wednesday is all about – and possibly how deep he has to dig to provide boss Alan Irvine with cash to strengthen to secure promotion this term.
Irvine will be keen to give Mandaric, and Wednesdayites and early Christmas present with three points, and bounce back from consecutive defeats.
Owls boss Alan Irvine told the official SWFC website:
‘I am expecting it to be a great atmosphere. I am sure the fans will give him a fantastic reception, a great welcome to the club and rightly so because he has certainly saved this club.
‘The prospects of the club have without question been transformed with the takeover. Milan’s record at Portsmouth and Leicester City is excellent and if he can achieve the same success here, then there are very exciting times ahead for everyone connected with Sheffield Wednesday.
‘I am looking forward to sitting down with Milan to find out what his plans are. Everybody knows the problems that this club have experienced off the field for many years and this takeover signals the start of a new era for the club.’
Pirates boss Paul Trollope told the official Rovers website:
‘We know the challenges ahead of us, we are pleased with the work we have been able to do, the spirit is very good and the players look sharp.
‘Sheffield Wednesday away represents another good test for us, similar to what we faced in the last couple of games. They are one of the bigger clubs in the division, with a fantastic stadium, so it will be a test we will relish.’
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday will be without midfielder Giles Coke, who underwent surgery on a problematic knee this week.
Coke, an important cog in the Owls’ early season form, went under the knife this week to sort out a knee problem that has kept him out in recent weeks, and will face some time on the sidelines.
He will join Lewis Buxton, who is set to be out until the New Year at least, while Jon Otsemobor is not fit to return yet and the match also comes too early for striker Neil Mellor.
Irvine may make changes to the side that lost at Swindon Town last weekend, with Paul Heffernan waiting to get his chance up front alongside Clinton Morrison.
Irvine has referred using Jermaine Johnson as a partner for Morrison, and could well do again against Rovers, but Heffernan gives him the option of a natural strike partner.
Daniel Jones is set to continue in place of the injured Buxton, while James O’Connor will be pushing for a recall to the starting eleven.
Player to watch: Clinton Morrison
With top-scorer Neil Mellor sidelined, the Owls will be looking to Morrison to step up and get the goals to bag three crucial points against the Pirates. The former Coventry man did it last week at Swindon without success, but he’ll be hoping to be part of a winning team this weekend.
Bristol Rovers Team News:
Rovers have played down fears that Stuart Campbell, their skipper, will miss the game after sustaining a slight neck injury in a practice match this week.
Campbell is expected to start at Hillsborough, as is former Rotherham United man Will Hoskins, who will be keen to net against his former South Yorkshire rivals.
Carl Regan will miss out through suspension though.
Rovers have drawn their last two matches, both away from home, and will be keen to remain unbeaten when leaving S6 on Saturday afternoon.
Player to watch: Will Hoskins
The former Rotherham United man is Rovers’ star striker and the Pirates will be looking to him for the goals to help cause an upset at Hillsborough. The former Rotherham United man will also be keen to get one over on his former South Yorkshire rivals.
Match Facts & Stats
Rovers : D-D-L-W-L
Wednesday wins: 6
Rovers wins: 2
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 2-1 Rovers
It’s been almost 20 years since the club’s met, and Wednesday edged the last clash, in the old Division 2, 2-1 at Hillsborough in ’91.
v Exeter City (A) – 18/12/10
v Tranmere Rovers (A) – 26/12/10