IT’S been almost two years since Wednesday hammered a nail in Leicester City’s Championship coffin and all-but secured their survival on a dramatic day at the Walkers Stadium.
On Saturday, although not quite as important just yet, the tables will be turned when the promotion-chasing Foxes arrive at Hillsborough looking to keep up their play-off hopes and pile more woe on Alan Irvine’s men.
Throw former Owls legend Nigel Pearson into the mix, as he returns with his Foxes side, and we have a tasty clash on our hands – one which is vitally important at both ends of the table.
With contrasting form, Leicester will be big favourites going into the game, but the Owls know three points could well lift them out of the relegation zone.
Alan Irvine told the official SWFC website:
‘When you have a result like last week, you have to think about what the alternatives are. As I always do, I will be looking very hard at the options and alternatives that we have.
‘We were in a perilous position when we came here and we got off to a great start. I said at the time that we needed to win 11 games in order to survive and I still believe that to be the case.
‘We now need to win another six games, so nothing has changed in that respect. In fact, the ratio of games we need to win is almost exactly the same. We have shown that we can win games if we go about our jobs properly.’
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday could be boosted by the return of at least two players for Saturday’s visit of the Foxes.
The Owls have been desperately missing captain Darren Purse and wing-wizard Jermaine Johnson through injury in recent weeks, but nboth have come through training unscathed this week and are set to be included in Irvine’s match-day squad.
Tommy Miller and Francis Jeffers have also come through training and will be putting their hand up to be included in the crunch clash against Nigel Pearson’s men.
Irvine will be keen to change his hand following the 5-0 drubbing at Reading last weekend which he claimed was ‘unacceptable’.
Despite that thumping, which was loan player Eddie Nolan’s first game since arriving from PNE, the full-back is set to continue in defence and be given his debut at Hillsborough.
But Frank Simek, Sean McAllister, Etienne Esajas and Leon Clarke will all be looking to be involved from the start this week after featuring as substitutes at the Madjeski Stadium last weekend.
Player to watch: Jermaine Johnson
Should he be involved from the start, Johnson will add some much-needed pace and creativity to a Wednesday attack that has looked short on ideas since his injury. An important outlet ball, the Jamaican adds a different dimension to the Owls forward line and Wednesdayites will be keen to see him back in action this weekend.
Leicester City Team News:
The Foxes are set to bring a healthy following of supporters to S6 and they’ll be hoping their men can reproduce the form that saw them comfortably see off Wednesday back at the Walkers in December.
The Foxes are unbeaten in eight Championship games, conceding just four goals along the way – an impressive stat.
The last of those games came with a comfortable 3-0 success against automatic promotion-hopefuls Nottingham Forest last weekend and boss Pearson is expected to keep the same starting eleven for the trip to South Yorkshire.
The fifth-placed Foxes have been finding their form without leading goalscorer Matty Fryatt, who’s out injured after netting eleven league goals so far this season.
Sunderland loanee Martin Waghorn has provided a suitable replacement though, while Paul Gallagher’s free-kicks will prove tricky to defend from an Owls point of view.
Player to watch: Matt Oakley
How Wednesday could do with an experienced, quality centre-midfield player to hold the middle of the park together, and in Matt Oakley Leicester have exactly that. He might not be the one to get the plaudits week-in , week-out, but he’s a key cog in a team who’ve stormed through League One and are looking to do the same in the Championship.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday wins: 39
Leicester wins: 38
Last Time Out:
Leciester 3-0 Wednesday
The Walkers Stadium, Leicester
It turned out to be Brian Laws’ last game in charge of the Owls after the Foxes made light work of Wednesday in Leicestershire before Christmas. Arguably the Owls’ worst showing of the season so far, an Andy King brace and Steve Howard strike proved enough for the hosts in the reverse fixture.
Wednesday: Grant, Nolan, Hinds, Beevers, Spurr, Soares (Miller 46), O’Connor (McAllister 74), Potter, Gray (Clarke 46), Varney, Tudgay. Unused substitutes: O’Donnell, Simek, Boden, Esajas.
Leciester: Weale; Morrison, Hobbs, Brown, Berner, Oakley, A King, Wellens, Gallagher, Waghorn, Dyer. Subs: Logan, Solano, Howard (90 for Waghorn), Adams (90 for Gallagher), N’Guessan, Kermorgant (85 for Wellens), Bruce.
v West Brom (A) – 09/03/10
v Swansea City (A) – 13/03/10