Wednesday will look to avoid the embarrassment of being on the end of a big FA Cup upset on Sunday when they travel to Blue Square Premier Southport with the nation watching.
The Owls will be favourites for progression to the second round of the famous competition with victory at the seaside but underdogs Southport will fancy their chances given the Owls’ recent poor performances and financial worries off the pitch.
Alan Irvine and his men won’t want to go down the same route as Leeds United when they crashed out against Histon two years ago but it’s a bit of a no-win situation for Irvine and co. at Haig Avenue.
It’s a real ‘romantic’ tie, something which typifies the FA Cup, and Wednesday won’t want to be on the end of a ‘giant-killing’ with the nation watching.
Alan Irvine told the official SWFC website:
‘This is an important game for us and nobody should think this is a bigger game for Southport than Sheffield Wednesday. This is important for us in a big way.
‘With the TV cameras being at Haig Avenue, a lot of people are seeing this as a potential upset.
‘I fully expect the crowd to get right behind Southport so it is important that we get off to a good start, but that is something we must sustain throughout the match.’
Southport boss Liam Watson told the Southport Visitor:
‘If the weather keeps going the way it has been then there is no way Sheff Wed will fancy this.
‘Without doubt they`ll be apprehensive coming to us on the back of two defeats and know the torrent of criticism they`ll receive going back to Sheffield if they lose to us. With all their boardroom unrest as well, Sunday has banana skin written all over it and Sheff Wed will know that.’
Southport Team News:
Midfielder Matty McGinn is Southport’s only doing going into what is likely to be their biggest game of the season.
McGinn suffered a calf injury in Port’s last league game against Kidderminster Harriers last Friday, which they drew 2-2, and is currently receiving treatment in a bid to be fit for the cup tie.
Southport boss Liam Watson has no other fresh injury concerns.
But regular goalkeeper Tony McMillan will miss the big day through suspension after being sent -off at Kidderminster and losing his appeal against the dismissal.
Yorkshire-born Steve Dickinson will be making his first appearance for Southport since April 2006.
Defender Rob Marsh Evans is cup tied but defender Shaun Gray is hoping to be fit enough to make the bench.
Player to watch: Steve Daly
The goals have been shared out pretty evenly for Southport this season but Steve Daly, with join-top scorer with three goals so far this term, will have the edge with his extra experience in a Southport shirt. He’ll be one of many looking to grab the headlines with the winning goal for the hosts.
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday will be boosted by the return of right-back Jon Otsemobor following a three-match suspension.
Otsemobor was looking like Irvine’s preferred choice at right-back before the sending-off and he could return in his usual position and see Lewis Buxton switch to centre-back alongside captain Darren Purse.
The Owls have doubts over the fitness of Jermaine Johnson, who limped off with a hamstring injury in the midweek defeat against Huddersfield Town, and Tommy Miller, who missed the game with the Terriers.
Miller is expected to be fully fit after returning to full training this week but JJ is likely to miss out after suffering another unfortunate set-back.
Irvine’s expected to make a straight swap with Miller coming in for Johnson, although Gary Teale will be keen to return to the starting eleven.
Irvine could ponder a number of changes to his side following Tuesday night’s horror show, with Clinton Morrison and Paul Heffernan both keen for starts.
Player to watch: Giles Coke
The midfield battle is going to be an important one on Sunday and the former of Giles Coke could be key in any Owls victory. Coke’s form, like the side’s in general, has dipped of late and he’ll be looking to return to his impressive early-season form.
Match Facts & Stats
No surprises here, the two sides have never met before and will be making history in the FA Cup on Sunday. Southport HAVE played at Hillsborough before though, losing against Newcastle in an FA Cup replay in 1932.
v Hartlepool United (JPT) – 10/11/10