Sheffield Wednesday: Safety target lower this time

Celebrations as Atdhe Nuhiu's goal against Middlesbrough keeps the Owls on track
Celebrations as Atdhe Nuhiu's goal against Middlesbrough keeps the Owls on track
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Wednesday’s recent form suggests it is going to be more a case of how high they finish in the table rather than how low they sink, writes Paul Thompson.

The points total needed for safety is likely to be lower than it was last year.

The bottom four clubs have between 26 and 28 points. At the same stage a year ago, nobody had fewer than 31 and at the end of the campaign even 54 was not enough for third-from-bottom Peterborough to stay up.

Maybe this season the required total will be the traditional mark of 50 or something closer to it than last year’s safety mark.

As the Owls already have 39 with 14 games left, it is looking good for them.

Stuart Gray has a positive attitude, though, assessing whom the club can catch next, not look over the shoulder with any undue worries.

As he said after last week’s win: “Probably six or seven weeks ago Middlesbrough didn’t think Sheffield Wednesday would be a point behind them on March the first.

“I keep saying to the players: just keep looking upwards.”

There is no need to clutch at straws, but, in the quest to make absolutely sure of survival, there could be some help from Connor Wickham goals, even if he will not be playing for Wednesday

Leeds’ remaining fixtures include eight against teams below the Owls: Bolton, Millwall, Bournemouth, Doncaster, Charlton, Blackpool, Barnsley and Birmingham. Wednesday fans will be in the odd position of wishing their bitter rivals well!

Even a top-10 spot does not seem impossible for the Owls, with them standing seven points below that. But it is harder than it may appear, with five clubs in the way.

There could even be super-optimists wondering about the play-offs. But I must point out that Wednesday are nine clubs and 13 points off the top six.

Chris Kirkland has a realistic approach: “We’ll take staying up. This is only our second season in the Championship. It’s a tough, gruelling league.

“March is going to test the squad but hopefully we’ll get a few players back. We’re just making sure we can stay in this league.”