LEWIS Buxton has eased the Owls’ injury problems by declaring himself fit for the FA Cup tie at Blackpool - a game where Gary Megson regards his team as underdogs.
The Seasiders are chasing promotion to the Premier League for the second time in three seasons, and Megson believes that their squad now is stronger than on the previous occasion.
Both sides are set to make changes ahead of league games next Tuesday, with Buxton possibly returning for Wednesday after missing the 3-1 win at Scunthorpe.
Like Megson, Blackpool boss Ian Holloway regards promotion as the priority and he could tinker with his side before they face Coventry next week.
The Owls manager’s hope that Buxton had suffered only tightness in his hamstring has been fulfilled and he trained fully yesterday so could come back, whether that be in the back four or the right side of midfield - if Megson decides not to save him for the big clash with MK Dons.
Reda Johnson’s back problem has taken longer to clear up than had been expected and he has been sent for a scan, with the Owls awaiting the result.
Rob Jones and Julian Bennett have had injections in an attempt to alleviate their ankle and shoulder problems respectively. “Julian is still pretty sore,” said Megson.
Daniel Jones, definitely out, has a scan on his calf today.
Miguel Llera and Mike Jones are Cup-tied,
Looking at the injury problems, Megson said: “Fingers crossed, players might be fit but we’re going to have to chop and change anyway.
“We’ve got a hugely important game against MK Dons on Tuesday and an important one the following Saturday [against Yeovil].”
“But we’re in the fourth round of the FA Cup and we want to win it, hopefully come through without any more problems, then get down to the MK Dons game.” Megson respects Blackpool: “We saw them here earlier in the season. Olly made quite a few changes that night. They still had a lot of good players and I think they strengthened from that point.
“I spoke to Ian when we were trying to do a deal with Miguel Llera. I get on really well with him.
“One of the things in their favour [in the Championship] is that they’ve been there [in a promotion campaign] a couple of seasons ago.
“He’s got a better squad than he had at that time. When it comes to cup competitions, he can chop and change a bit and still put out a good side.
“They’re seventh in the Championship. There’s no Kevin Phillips or Barry Feguson, those kind of players, at our place.
“They have some really experienced players who were brought in when they were in the Premier League; near enough all of their players have played in that.
“We have to be seen as underdogs. That makes no difference: we have a good squad, a good team, and when we put it all together we can put in really good performances.”
Megson is interested in other players besides Swansea midfielder Ferrie Bodde as the January 31 transfer deadline looms. He said: “We have irons in the fire - nothing concrete.
“Trying to improve on where we were six months ago was a lot easier than trying to improve on where we are now. “Whether we can get those players that I think we need with the resources we have remains to be seen.”
Teams and ref
SEASIDERS (possible): Gilks, Eardley, Wilson, Cathcart, Harris, Fleck, Ferguson, Basham, M Phillips, K Phillips, Taylor-Fletcher (4-3-3).
OWLS (possible): Bywater, Otsemobor, Batth, Beevers, Buxton, Palmer, Lines, Semedo, J Johnson, O’Grady, Madine (4-4-2).
Darren Deadman (Cheshunt). Took the Owls’ 1-1 draw at Charlton and 4-4 draw with Huddersfield, and United’s 1-0 defeat at Charlton this season. Record: 30 games, 133 yellow cards, 10 reds.
One to watch
Kevin Phillips is 38 but still a threat. He has scored eight goals this season in 25 appearances, around half of them from the bench. His last goal was in a 2-2 draw at Ipswich on January 14. Blackpool are his seventh club and he joined them last summer after three years at Birmingham.
Wednesday have won their last two games at Bloomfield Road, both in the Championship: 2-0 in 2008-09 and 2-1 in 2009-10. The overall record between the clubs is 39 Owls wins, 24 to the Seasiders, and 14 draws.