Wednesday will be wanting to bounce straight back from their disappointing 3-0 defeat against league leaders Birmingham City last weekend – but it will be a tough job as they welcome George Burley’s high-flying Saints to Hillsborough for a Christmas cracker.
Owls: (from) Crossley, Simek, Bougherra, Bullen, Spurr, Andrews, Lunt, Whelan, Brunt, Burton, Tudgay, Folly, O’Brien, Talbot, McAllister, Maclean, Coughlan, Adamson.
Saints: (from) Davis, Ostlund, Lundekvam, Baird, Bale, Surman, Wright, Pele, Skacel, Rasiak, Jones, Wright-Phillips, Viafara, Licka, Dyer, Prutton, Idiakez, Sarmiento, McGoldrick, Bialkowski.
Brian Laws told the official Owls site:
‘Southampton are on a good run and they travel well. They have real quality on the ball and have been scoring a lot from set pieces so we’ll have to be mindful of that and try not to concede silly free-kicks around our penalty area.’
George Burley told the official Saints site:
‘Wednesday have done very well of late and although they were beaten by Birmingham last week all the reports say they were by far the better team. We have watched them on video and they try and pass and play so we are looking forward to it.
‘There will be a big crowd and a good atmosphere at a big stadium and that might suit us. We have struggled recently on tight grounds such as Colchester and Southend but a big stadium could be to our advantage.
‘We have been consistent at home where we have only lost one but we have been beaten five times and that is an area where we have got to improve. We need to go to Hillsborough and try to dictate the game more than we did at Southend. But the spirit is good as it has been all season and we showed last week we have the resilience to come from behind.
‘I have said I want us to play the same way regardless of whether we are winning or losing and we have been in good form of late so we need to keep that going.’
Wednesday Team News:
Owls boss Brian Laws will be sweating on the fitness of Mark Crossley and winger Wayne Andrews ahead of Saturday’s clash after both players withdrew from last weekend’s defeat against Brum with knocks.
Laws is confident he will have the services of Crossley in between the sticks for Wednesday but will give Andrews a late fitness test and rates his chances of a starting place as 50/50.
Midfielder Glenn Whelan will be available for selection again after sitting out last week through suspension after picking up five yellow cards and will give Laws a big selection headache with Kenny Lunt and Yoann Folly performing well in the centre of the park.
Other than that, Laws will have no fresh injury worries going in to the game.
Player to watch: Chris Brunt
Brunt could well be a key figure for the Owls on Saturday – even more so if he’s asked to move on to the right hand side of midfield should Wayne Andrews not pass his late fitness test. Brunt is the Owls joint top-scorer and could be relied on to give the Owls faithful some Christmas cheer on Saturday.
Southampton Team News:
Saints boss George Burley will be hoping to pick up a victory on Saturday to celebrate his first year in charge of the south coast club, but will be without full-back Chris Makin for the trip north.
Darren Powell has returned to training after a spell on the sidelines through injury but the defender is unlikely to be fit enough to make a full return to first team action at the weekend.
Player to watch: Grzegorz Rasiak
Much has been said about highly-rated defender Gareth Bale in to the run up to the match but the Owls will be keeping their eye firmly on former Derby County hitman Grzegorz Rasiak who currently sits top of the Championship goalscoring charts.
Match Facts & Stats
Last Time Out:
Southampton 3-0 Wednesday
25th February 2006 – St Mary’s
Things were not looking good for Paul Sturrock and his side as they travelled down to the south coast eager to get vital points to climb away from the drop zone – but three goals, topped off by Kenwyne Jones’ second-half effort sent the travelling Wednesday fans home pointless.
Wednesday wins: 31
Saints wins: 22
Wednesday: Crossley; Simek, Bougherra, Bullen, Spurr; Andrews (MacLean 45+1), Folly (Talbot 76), Lunt, Brunt; Tudgay, Burton (O’Brien 76). Subs: Adamson, Coughlan.
Southampton: Davis; Ostlund, Baird, Lundekvam, Bale; Surman, Wright, Pele, Skacel (Viafara 79); Jones, Rasiak (Wright-Phillips 73). Subs not used: Bialkowski, Idiakez, Dyer.
Form – Last 5:
-Taken from www.bet365.com-
Wednesday win: 7/5
Saints win: 17/10
Crystal Palace v Sunderland
Burnley v Derby
Ipswich v Stoke
Leeds v Hull
Leicester v Cardiff
Luton v Coventry
Plymouth v West Brom
Preston v Colchester
QPR v Barnsley
Sheff Wed v Southampton
Southend v Birmingham
Wolverhampton v Norwich
Vs Stoke City (A) – 26/12/06
Vs Barnsley (A) – 30/12/06
Vs Hull City – 01/01/06