The time has come, the Owls’ final day victory against Norwich City doesn’t seem too far away but a new Championship season is all set to commence, and we’re all excited, aren’t we?
It hasn’t been the most eventful pre-season at Hillsborough on the transfer front, with just the two new signings coming through the door at S6 in the shape of James O’Connor and Jimmy Smith.
Things couldn’t have been much different for Saturday’s opponents Burnley, with former Owls loanee Chris Eagles leading the way for Owen Coyle’s close season signings from Manchester United.
But with a takeover at S6 all but done as we speak, fans will be looking forward to Saturday’s opener with the Clarets much more than they would have been a few weeks ago.
Let the football commence!
Owls boss Brian Laws told the Sheffield Star:
‘It’s important we get a good start to the season; it’s quite a while since we had one of those. We know what’s required. We are confident of making a good start.
‘I’m confident in the players we’ve got. There’s no doubt about it, if we stay away from significant injuries we have a decent chance of a good season.
‘We have a quality defence, we have added new players to our midfield, where Sean McAllister is also emerging, and we have goals in us.’
Burnley boss Owen Coyle told the official Burnley website:
‘We all just want Saturday to come quickly.
‘The lads have worked ever so hard and we think we have got them in a good, physical condition – and touch wood they will stay injury free.
‘We knew we already had a good team spirit and we have signed some new players that we have tried to integrate into the group.
‘They have worked ever so hard and hopefully that will bear fruit when the season starts.’
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday fans returning to Hillsborough for the new season are unlikely to see many changes to the side that finished last season in the famous blue and white stripes.
Former Claret James O’Connor and Chelsea youngster Jimmy Smith are the only new signings Brian Laws has brought in to bolster his midfield.
And O’Connor is all set to get the nod to start against his former club after featuring heavily in the Owls’ pre-season campaign, but his central midfield partner is yet to be revealed.
Sean McAllister is fit and raring to go, while Steve Watson and Smith are both on the return from knocks picked up in pre-season, with Laws leaving it until the last minute to give late fitness checks to both.
The impressive defence of Lee Grant, Tommy Spurr, Mark Beevers, Richard Wood and Richard Hinds are expected to get the nod at the back, although Peter Gilbert will be pushing for a place instead of Hinds.
But the attack is where the selection headache lies, with Akpo Sodje leading the race for a starting spot, while Leon Clarke, Marcus Tudgay and Deon Burton have all worked hard to stake their claim for a starting spot, although Laws is likely to go with the experienced Sodje and Burton partnership.
Frank Simek remains sidelined, although Francis Jeffers stepped up his fitness in a midweek behind-closed-doors friendly with Bradford and could be included in the squad.
Player to watch: James O’Connor
As the only new signing likely to start on Saturday, Wednesday fans will be keen to see what the midfielder is all out in his first outing in the blue and white – made even better because he’s featuring against his former club on day one.
Burnley Team News:
Clarets boss Owen Coyle has brought in six and let four players go in the close season, with the impressive signings out-shining the players he let go – giving the Clarets a pop at the top ten at least this signing.
The most impressive signing is Chris Eagles, who signs for the Clarets after making appearances for Manchester United in pre-season, and Owls fans will know all about him after spending a year in the blue and white on loan recently.
Martin Paterson has also made the £1m-plus switch to Turf Moor from Scunthorpe United, and he’ll be hoping to continue his fine form against the Owls which saw him bag against Lee Grant a number of times last season.
Player to watch: Chris Eagles
The former Manchester United man has no doubt been the signing of the summer for Burnley, and he’ll be keen to get off to an impressive start for the Clarets, especially after spending a year on loan in the famous blue and white stripes.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday wins: 36
Burnley wins: 40
Last Time Out:
Burnley 1-1 Wednesday
26/12/07 – Turf Moor
Two goals in a minute saw Wednesday happily take a point from Turf Moor on Boxing Day. Deon Burton had opened the scoring from the spot on the half hour mark, but Ade Akinbiyi grabbed an equaliser just minutes later to see the sides take a share of the spoils.
12/08/08 – Rotherham United (H, Carling Cup)
16/08/08 – Wolves (A)
23/08/08 – Preston (H)