Gary Megson is calling on Wednesday to be relentless as they enter a crucial part of the season.
He is spotlighting not just this month, which includes derbies against Chesterfield and Sheffield United, but the dogfights between all the teams who are pushing for promotion.
Remarkably, the teams who are currently in the top six play one another next Tuesday.
First, however, the Owls must go to Exeter and prove once again that they can snuff out one of League One’s lesser lights.
Tomorrow’s other games include Chesterfield v Charlton, Leyton Orient v Huddersfield, MK Dons v Bury, Sheffield United v Wycombe and a clash between the sixth and seventh-placed teams: Stevenage v Carlisle.
Next Tuesday’s big games are Charlton v MK Dons, Huddersfield v United and Wednesday v Stevenage.
Megson says that “without a doubt” momentous times are approaching.
“We’re now getting towards the last third of the season; we’re not going to change a huge amount. It’s about players: keeping them fit, keeping them happy, which means winning games, and being relentless and hopefully keeping that going,” he said.
Among the selection issues facing him tomorrow is the one at centre-back. Captain Rob Jones returned against Blackpool when Miguel Llera was cup-tied but the Spaniard’s form before that mounts a strong case for his return.
David Prutton and Chris Lines appear to be competing for one central midfield place, with Jose Semedo the deputy skipper and a fixture in the league side.
The question facing Megson is whether Lines did enough in a cup
recall to merit a place in the subsequent league match, as Prutton did following his performance in the 1-1 draw at Blackpool
A lean night for the forwards on Tuesday could be followed by a return for front two Gary Madine and Chris O’Grady, though Madine has not been at his best in his last couple of games.
Megson prefers to regard this month as being no more important than any other month, though it contains games against two teams who have thrashed the Owls 5-1 in the not too distant past, plus derbies against Chesterfield and United.
“From the start of the season we’ve known what we’re trying to do: average two points a game throughout the season. Overall, we haven’t been too far from that,” he said.
The Owls currently stand just one point
below that average, with a total of 57 points from 29 games.
He added: “It doesn’t guarantee you promotion. This division has rarely been like it is now; usually there have been two or three teams doing well and close together at the top; this season it’s been five, and with Stevenage and Carlisle doing well below them.
“But with an average of two points a game, you won’t be miles away.”
Megson is conscious of that defeat at Exeter, which happened before he became manager:
“On their own pitch, they’re going to be different from how they are away,” he said.
“He (manager Paul Tisdale) has changed their formation a bit, with three at the back, three in the middle of the park and looking to make it a lot more solid.
“Until recently they kept three clean sheets on the spin; while doing that, it takes a bit away from another area.”
Exeter have not scored for four games. But Megson suspects that it will be a typical case of a smaller club raising their game against the Owls.
He thinks Wednesday still need to improve their finishing and their ability to keep clean sheets of their own.
Teams and ref
EXETER (possible) Krysiak; Duffy, Archibald-Henville, Coles; Tully, Dunne, Bennett, Noble, Jones; Logan, Nardiello (3-5-2).
OWLS (possible): Bywater; Buxton, Batth, Llera, Bennett; Bostock, Lines or Prutton, Semedo, J Johnson; Madine, O’Grady (4-4-2).
Fred Graham (Essex): Wednesday must hope that his appointment is not an unlucky omen. He was in charge when they crashed 5-1 at St James Park on December 18, 2010, when at least he did not book anybody.
One to watch
Daniel Nardiello was recalled to the starting line-up when Exeter lost 2-0 at Bournemouth on Tuesday. He is the Grecians’ top scorer, with six goals in the league and two in the cup. He has not netted since the 4-4 draw at Sheffield United on October 29.
Exeter did the double over Wednesday in 1979-80 and 2010-11, the two campaigns where they had most recently met until this season. But the Owls beat them 3-0 at Hillsborough in September,