Wednesday face an unlikely relegation six-pointer against Southampton – who were hopeful of a swift return to the Premiership at the start of the season.
It’s been a bit of a circus down at St Mary’s this season, but George Burley will be hopeful to avoid a late season relegation scrap by getting three vital points against a Wednesday side full of injuries.
Paul Sturrock told the SWFC official site:
”They’re a very changed team. George has brought a lot of players on loan to the football club – hopefully they don’t gel too quickly. It will be a very difficult place to go on Saturday.”
”If we play for a point, we’ll lose. But there’s a pressure on them because their crowds aren’t enjoying their season.”
Southampton Team News:
Saints boss George Burley will have a slight selection headache at the weekend as eight players are likely to return to action.
Claus Lundekvam and former-Owls loanee Kenwyne Jones have both shaken off knocks which they recieved at the FA Cup defeat to Newcastle and should be fit to return against the Owls.
Danny Higginbotham, Kamil Kosowski and Djamel Belmadi will also be hoping to play a part in the match after recoving from injuries during the week.
The Saints also welcome back three players who were cup-tied for the Newcastle match last week. Andrew Surman, Richard Chaplow and Grzegorz Rasiak will all return after playing in the Fa Cup with their former sides.
The Saints will be desperate to pick up some momentum as the season draws to close, to avoid being dragged in to a late season relegation scrap. The St Mary’s outfit have only won one league match this year, a 2-1 victory against lowly Brighton.
Player to watch: Grzegorz Rasiak
Southampton have struggled for goals this season – and their two top scorers Nigel Quashie and Theo Walcott both made moves away from the club in the transfer window. That will leave former Derby man Rasiak as a key man in the Saints team, and will be hoping to impress to drag the Saints away from relegation trouble.
Wednesday Team News:
Paul Sturrock faces what he calls the worst injury crisis he has ever seen at a football club, as Wednesday could be with just 11 senior first team players for the trip to the south coast.
Richard Wood has been ruled out for 2-3 weeks, and will join an ever-growing injury list of Jon-Paul McGovern, David Lucas, Drew Talbot, Drissa Diallo, Peter Gilbert, Craig Rocastle and John Hills.
Loanees Leon Best and Yoann Folly are ineligable for the trip against their employers, who refused to let the duo play as part of their loan contracts with the club.
Striker Barry Corr, and left-backs John Hills and Peter Gilbert will face late fitness tests for the match – with Sturrock particularly hopeful of the return of John Hills – who could be used to replac Gilbert at left-back, or on the left-wing.
Sturrock failed in his bid to bring a ‘keeper in on loan this week, which means reserve stopper Chris Adamson will continue between the sticks.
Player to watch: Steve Maclean
Each game Maclean plays his fitness will improve, and in a team desperately struggling for goals, Maclean will add a different dimension to the Owls attack, and will want to build on his first goal of the season against the Blades last week.
The Scot has only managed a handful of games in the Championship this season after breaking his leg, and will be desperate for another crack at the league next year with the Owls.
Match Facts & Stats
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 0-1 Southampton
13th August 2005
The Saints came to Hillsborough early in the season looking for a swift return to the Premiership. A single Kenwyne Jones goal was enough for the visitors, who always looked in control of proceedings, and at that time were well on track for a return to the top flight.
Played For Both:
Trond Egil Soltvedt
Vs Cardiff City (A) – 04/03/06
Vs QPR (H) – 11/03/06
Vs PNE (H) – 18/03/06