The football season’s back! And we’re all ready to go and optimistic for a promotion-winning campaign, aren’t we? No? Well at least a home game against Rochdale gives us the perfect opportunity to get off to a winning start in npower League One, no disrespect to the Spotland side.
It’s been a long summer, and nothing less than promotion will do this term for Wednesday fans, and chairman Milan Mandaric, who has put his faith in Gary Megson as the man to get the job done.
The transfer targets may not have gone completely to plan, but new players have arrived and the Owls are once again amongst the favourites for promotion with the bookies.
For Rochdale, it’ll be a tough season following their success of last term under former boss Keith Hill, who has since moved on to Barnsley along with some of Rochdale’s key performers last term.
A good start to the season is vital for both sides.
Owls skipper Rob Jones told the official SWFC website:
‘You want to play in as many games as possible during pre-season to get your sharpness and match fitness up.
‘I think we have all had enough games to say that we are ready for Saturday.’
He continued: ‘We have had a great pre-season, the dressing room is bubbly and together and we’re all looking forward to Saturday.’
Rochdale captain Gary Jones told their official website:
‘It’s just fantastic. Who wouldn’t be excited about playing in front of 20,000 fans at Hillsborough on the opening day? I’m looking forward to the new season and I cannot wait to be honest.
‘I’m feeling as fit as ever and I’m sure we can continue to move forward under Steve and Frankie.They have brought fresh ideas and the environment is as good as I’ve known it.
‘The rest of the lads are also looking forward to it too and we hope we can go one better than last season.’
Wednesday Team News:
The season may not have even kicked-off yet but Wednesday suffered a blow with the news that Jermaine Johnson will miss the season opener.
The Jamaican winger suffered a knee injury in the Owls’ final pre-season friendly against Stoke City last weekend and he could be sidelined for a month.
It means Wednesday are low on their attacking options after struggling to bolster their attacking line over the close season. Wednesday have bid for Rotherham United hitman Adam Le Fondre but a deal isn’t expected to be struck with the Millers before the weekend.
It means Gary Madine and Clinton Morrison are Wednesday’s only two recognised strikers for Saturday. The two could get the nod to start alongside each other, or Megson could well go for a five-man midfield, with just Madine leading the line.
Player to watch: Gary Madine
With Wednesday bolstering their defence over the summer, the pressure will be on the front men this weekend. Madine and Morrison are the only two recognised strikers available, and the former is the most likely to get the nod and get the goals.
Rochdale Team News:
Rochdale boss Steve Eyre will give Chris O’Grady until the last minute to prove his fitness.
The former Rotherham United man, who was subject to a bid from the Owls this summer, has missed the last few friendly outings through injury and is rated as 50-50 to make the season opener.
But the Spotland club will definitely be without winger Simon Hackey, who faces another six weeks on the sidelines with abdominal muscle injury.
Jean Louis Akpa Akpro is expected to plug the gap if O’Grady misses out on a place in the starting eleven.
The Lancashire club have signed Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Jake Kean on loan and he’ll take his place between the sticks.
Player to watch: Chris O’Grady
If fit, the former Leicester man will pose the biggest attacking threat for the visitors. His involvement will be of extra interest to Wednesdayites thanks to the club’s links with him this summer. Typically, it might be a good bet to slap a few quid on him as first scorer if fit.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday wins: 3
Rochdale wins: 1
Last Time Out:
Rochdale 2-1 Wednesday
The last time the sides met Wednesday were played off the park, despite the pretty close scoreline. Matt Done and Gary Jones fired Dale ahead in the first half before Gary Madine netted a consolation goal minutes from time.
v Blackpool (H, Carling Cup) – 11/8/11
vBournemouth (A) – 13/8/11