Wednesday take a welcome break from Championship action this weekend as they kick-start 2010 with an FA Cup third round clash against Crystal Palace.
It may not be the most glamorous way to start a new decade, no disrespect to the Eagles, but it gives Sean McAuley and his troops the chance to start the new year with a win, and much-needed progression in the prestigious competition.
Palace, too, will be thinking the same, no doubt about it, as they too look towards the cup as the ideal way to boost club finances at a much-needed time.
Owls caretaker boss Sean McAuley told the official SWFC website:
‘It’s important that the club has success.
‘We place value in a cup run but winning also breeds winning so we will welcome the extra games, we will welcome the strain on the squad and we will welcome everything that comes with playing in the FA Cup if we do manage to put together a run in the competition.
‘We have worked on a physical session to ensure the players are where we want them to be and we have spoken about the value of the FA Cup. My opinion is that one of the top six sides in the Premier League will win the FA Cup and the way other Premier League teams prioritise things nowadays means that a Championship side could reach the quarter finals or semi finals this season.’
Wednesday Team News:
McAuley will be forced into at least one change from the side that drew with Newcastle after striker Luke Varney returned from his four-month loan spell to Derby County.
But Tom Soares could well feature against his former club on Saturday, with Wednesday extending his loan deal at S6 from Premier League Stoke City.
Tommy Spurr and Lee Grant will both be given late fitness tests after both were ill over the last week, but both are expected to get the nod to continue.
But Richard Hinds will definitely be missing through a heel injury.
Francis Jeffers and Etienne Esajas will both be pushing for starting roles after featuring from the substitutes bench in recent weeks.
Player to watch: Tom Soares
Should he be given the nod to feature, Soares will no doubt be looking to impress after sitting much of his initial loan stint on the bench. He enjoyed a first outing against Newcastle, and will be keen to show the Palace fans, his former club, just what they’re missing.
Crystal Palace Team News:
A return to Sheffield will also be one of the first games that Eagles’ boss Neil Warnock looks for on the fixture list, whether it be at Bramall Lane or Hillsborough.
He’ll no doubt be keen to get one over on Wednesday – and he’ll no doubt get a hot reception from the Wednesdayites – on his return to the Steel City, as well as secure progression in the competition.
Palace, and former Sheffield United defender Claude Davis could return to the starting line-up after sitting out through suspension over the festive period.
Full-backs Danny Butterfield and Clint Hill could also return to action, although on-loan striker Freddie Sears has returned to West Ham.
Player to watch: Victor Moses
The youngster has been linked with moves to a number of Premier League clubs, and he’ll no doubt be eager to please on the FA Cup stage. Could cause the Owls defence all kinds of problems.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday wins: 21
Palace wins: 14
Last Time Out:
Palace 0-0 Wednesday
Selhurst Park, 29/09/09
Nothing could separate the two teams in the league back in September – here’s hoping we see a few more goals, for the Owls of course, on Saturday.
Wednesday: D, L, L, L, L
Palace: D, W, D, L, W
v Peterborough United (H) – 09/01/10