Wednesday take a welcome break from league action this weekend when they continue their FA Cup campaign at home against League Two strugglers Hereford United at Hillsborough.
The Owls and boss Alan Irvine have come under increasing pressure in League One due to below-par performances which have seen them fall adrift of the play-off spots.
But the prestigious FA Cup will let them put all that to one side, for one afternoon at least, as a place in the fifth round, and a potential draw against a big club, awaits.
Hereford will be no pushovers though, despite their lowly position, and will fancy their chances against an Owls side struggling for form.
Owls boss Alan Irvine told the official SWFC website:
‘We’ve had a good cup run so far. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in this competition before the third round and it seems as though we’ve played a lot of games.
‘We’ve had a lot of good results and I’m delighted that we’ve managed to reach the fourth round and I very much want to make it into the fifth.’
‘Against Bristol City it was probably the first time we’ve gone into a game as underdogs but we made sure we were difficult to play against and made sure they didn’t get too many chances.
‘I don’t think anyone expected Hereford to win in the last round and that’s proved to be a turning point for them because they have kicked on from there.
‘Certainly we are expected to win but there are never foregone conclusions in football and especially in the FA Cup.’
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday boss Irivne will be forced into making changes with striker Gary Madine, who’s started the last two games, cup-tied for playing in the competition with former club Carlisle United this season.
It could mean Irvine opts for Neil Mellor and Clinton Morrison in attack, who players who have played well together in the competition so far.
Tommy Miller will be sidelined as he sits out through a hamstring injury which is expected to keep him out for between four and six weeks.
Jon Otsemobor (calf) and Liam Palmer (ankle) will also both be unavailable.
But Lewis Buxton could be back in contention after returning to training this week.
James O’Connor, Mark Beevers, Chris Sedgwick and Paul Heffernan will also be putting their hands up for a start after being used as substitutes in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw against nine-man Yeovil Town in midweek.
Player to watch: Neil Mellor
The on-loan striker has enjoyed good fortunes in the FA Cup so far this season and he’ll be hoping that the goals continue to help fire Wednesday into the fifth round of the competition against the Bulls.
Hereford United Team News:
Hereford have snapped up Birmingham City youngster Dan Preston on a youth loan deal, and he’s expected to go straight into the Bulls’ squad that makes the trip to S6.
Preston is eligible to feature on Saturday as is Jake Jervis, who also joined from Birmingham earlier in the week.
The Bulls were sitting in the League Two relegation places when they were drawn against the Owls in the competition, but have enjoyed a good run of five straight victories to put them in confident mood to face Wednesday.
Wednesday are set to see a familiar face return to S6 in the shape of former midfielder Kenny Lunt, who will line-up in Hereford’s midfield.
Player to watch: Kenny Lunt
Lunt didn’t make the impact expected on his arrival at S6 and Wednesdayites won’t remember him with very fond memories on his return. Lunt, of course, will be keen to prove the Owls wrong and help guide Hereford into the next round of the cup.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday wins: 3
Hereford wins: 2
Last Time Out:
Hereford 0-1 Wednesday
Edgar Street, 01/04/1978
The Owls haven’t faced the Bulls for over 30 years, with the sides last meeting in the old Division 3 when Wednesday edged the game with a 1-0 victory.
v Peterborough United (A) – 01/02/11
v MK Dons (H) – 05/02/11