Dom Howson’s Sheffield Wednesday column: Two more wins will confirm Owls play-off place

Gary Hooper
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Carlos Carvalhal has long referred to the Championship as a “marathon competition” - and we are all set up for another exciting conclusion to the season.

Wednesday are on a roll. They have momentum and Carvalhal will be seeking a fifth successive league victory for the first time in his tenure at home to Derby County tomorrow.

Despite their superb sequence of results, the Owls have not managed to shake off the attentions of Fulham or Leeds United. It looks a three-horse race for the final two play-off positions.

If Wednesday win their remaining three fixtures, they would finish the season on 84 points.

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A rejuvenated Daniel Pudil told me: “If we win another two games, I think we will be there.

“I don’t want it to come down to the Fulham game on the last day.

“Hopefully we can sort out a play-off place as soon as possible and we can play that last game a little calmer.”

Wednesday were forced to dig deep to keep their winning streak going at Queens Park Rangers. Carvalhal’s side underlined their battling qualities in the capital as they secured their first win at Loftus Road in nine attempts.

Even when results have not gone the Owls’ way, the bond between Carvalhal and owner Dejphon Chansiri stayed strong. They always believed Wednesday would come good, despite a sticky period.

It is no coincidence the Owls’ fortunes have improved since Gary Hooper returned to action. He has been a real focal point for Wednesday up front, cleverly linking the midfield and attack together. When Hooper and Jordan Rhodes rediscover their mojo in front of goal, the rest of the league had better watch out.

The battle for a midfield place is set to intensify with Kieran Lee and Sam Hutchinson edging closer to comebacks. Their energy, grit and quality will be useful in the promotion run-in.

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Things are looking pretty rosy and there are plenty of reasons for Owls fans to be feeling positive right now.

Wednesday have already surpassed their points tally from last season and the team are five points better off than they were at this stage in the 2015/16 campaign. There has been a fair amount of doom and gloom surrounding S6 this term, but the Owl have made steady progress.

It should not be underestimated that the Championship is a far tougher division than it was a year ago.

The average points total required to reach the top six in the last 10 seasons is 73. The Owls have more on the board than that figure but will probably need over 80 to confirm a play-off finish for the second year running.

It is in Wednesday’s hands and they are as ready as they ever will be for squeaky-bum time.

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