Owls boss Paul Sturrock couldn’t have picked a worse time to kick-start the Owls Championship campaign as they visit a rejuvinated Sunderland – backed by the cash of old-boy Niall Quinn and the managerial abilities of Roy Keane.
It was only a number of weeks ago when the Mackems were well and truly in the doldrums with Quinn as Chairman and Manager – and the Mackems sitting bottom of the Championship following their disastrous relegation from the Premiership last season.
But the introduction of Keane has lifted spirits around Wearside and Sunderland have lost just oen match since the former Manchester United and Celtic midfielder took the reigns. Can Wednesday spoil the Roy Keane party on Saturday?
Paul Sturrock told the official SWFC site:
‘If you hand-picked a game you wanted after the disappointing run we’ve had, Sunderland would be about the last place you want to go.
‘We’ve done alright away from home. Last season we went to Wolves and Norwich and got results. This year we went to Plymouth with half a team and won. We’ve got to roll our sleeves up and battle. If we do all the things we know we’re good at, I’m comfortable we’ll get a result.’
‘We could be sitting at the bottom of the table. But after the two-week break we’ve got a run of games I’m very comfortable with and I think we can get heavy pointage in.’
Roy Keane told the official SAFC site:
‘I’m looking for a reaction from the players but there will be changes,’ he said. ‘We need a [positive] result on Saturday, it’s vital we do well.
‘If you want to go anywhere as a football club you’ve got to be dominant at home. We weren’t against Leicester but hopefully I’ll get the right reaction tomorrow, I’ve got great faith in the players.
‘We’d like to win, that goes without saying, especially with an international break coming up.’
Sunderland Team News:
The Mackems have problems of their own on the injury front – but with a squad as big as the one at the Stadium of Light there’s sure to be some top-class players waiting in the wings to impress their new boss.
Former Southampton and Derby County man Rory Delap will miss the Owls’ visit with a knee injury while Neill Collins is also sidelined with a deadleg. Ross Wallace is suspended.
New signing Dwight Yorke is unavailable for selection by the Black Cats after leaving the country to represent his country in two international fixtures this week, but Jon Stead could return to action after recovering from a thigh injury.
Meanwhile, Graham Kavanagh will also be missing for the Mackems after suffering a knee injury which will keep him sidelined for around six weeks. The former Cardiff City and Wigan midfielder has been a big hit with the Sunderland fans and will be a big blow for Roy Keane.
The Black Cats also have Steven Wright, Steve Caldwell, Stephen Elliott, David Connolly and Daryl Murphy ruled out of action through injury.
Player to watch: 8 – Dean Whitehead
The former Oxford United man has been a big hit at the Stadium of Light since his arrival in 2004 and was part of the team that helped achieve promotion to the Premiership two years ago. Whitehead also impressed on the Premiership stage and will be dangerous from long-range and set-pieces on Saturday.
Wednesday Team News:
For the first time in a very, very, long time Owls boss Paul Sturrock will have a selection problem, albeit a very nive one, in attack with all five main attackers in contention for the trip to the Stadium of Light.
Sturrock wil have Marcus Tudgay, Deon Burton, Steve Maclean, Drew Talbot and Barry Corr all available after they all featured in Saturday’s crushing defeat to Derby County at Hillsborough.
Sturrock is unlikely to risk starting places for Talbot and Corr but could include them in the squad. But Steve Maclean will be desperate for a starting place after impressing as a substitute on Saturday. Macca could partner Marcus Tudgay in attack.
Former MK Dons winger Wade Small could also make a welcome return from injury after coming through the Owls reserve match with Rotherham United in midweek unscathed. Small has yet to feature in his preferred right-wing role for the Owls.
Middlesbrough loanee Brad Jones is still a doubt for the Owls after picking up an injury before the clash with Derby last week. Paul Sturrock may have to again rely on the services of Chris Adamson in the Owls goal.
But Wednesday will still be without Peter Gilbert, Richard Wood, John Hills and Yoann Folly.
Player to watch: 11 – Chris Brunt
Brunt may be being used as a scapegoat by some fans for the teams poor start to the new campaign but Paul Sturrock keeps faith with him safe in the knowledge that the Northern Irish international can produce that moment of magic at anytime. The Owls will be relying on Brunt’s left-foot to carve some magic on Saturday.
Match Facts & Stats
Last Time Out:
WEDNESDAY 4-2 Sunderland
12th September 2001 – Hillsborough, League Cup
The Owls came up against higher-division opponents in the Mackems in the second round of the League Cup and it was a memorable day for Wednesday fans, and in particulr for young Italian Michele Di Piedi. Kevin Phillips and Lilian Laslandes had netted for Sunderland while goals from Efan Ekoku and Owen Morrison took the game to extra-time.
Come forward, Di Piedi. The second half substitute, now playing for Doncaster Rovers, popped up just two minutes in to extra time to net a superb over-head kick to send the Wednesday fans wild. And Pablo Bonvin added a second to make the scores 4-2 to see the Owls progress to the next round.
SAFC wins: 46
SWFC wins: 45
Sunderland: Alnwick, Neill Collins (Lawrence 70), Cunningham, Varga, Robbie Elliott, Liam Miller, Whitehead (Leadbitter 45), Kavanagh, Wallace, Brown (Hysen 45), Yorke.
Subs Not Used: Ward, Danny Collins.
Wednesday: Adamson, Simek, Bougherra, Coughlan, Spurr, Lunt (Talbot 82), Whelan, O’Brien, Brunt, Burton (MacLean 62), Tudgay (Corr 84).
Subs Not Used: Bullen, McAllister.
-Taken from www.bet365.com-
SAFC Win: 4/6
SWFC Win: 4/1
Colchester v Ipswich
Barnsley v Luton
Birmingham v Leicester
Cardiff v Wolverhampton
Coventry v Plymouth
Derby v Southend
Hull v Crystal Palace
Southampton v QPR
Stoke v Preston
West Brom v Leeds
Norwich City v Burnley
Vs Barnsley (H) – 14/10/2006
Vs Colchester United (A) – 18/10/2006
Vs QPR (H) – 21/10/06