SHEFFIELD Wednesday are alive to the threat posed by Peterborough star Craig Mackail-Smith.
Gary Megson rates him as probably the best forward in League One.
Two of Mackail-Smith’s 26 goals this season came in the 5-3 drubbing of a 10-man Owls side last month, in Alan Irvine’s last match as manager.
The striker plundered another in last Saturday’s 6-0 thrashing of Carlisle.
Megson says: “He works hard, plays on the shoulder of the defender and loves getting in behind the back four. It opens up things for everybody else. He’s a quality player.”
The Owls manager believes that workrate is a key quality of all top strikers, including those in the Premiership whose reputations are not based on that ingredient.
“Berbatov doesn’t take the eye in terms of the work he does, but he does work, and works cleverly as well. Rooney is exactly the same.
“You can’t say ‘I’m a finisher.’ You have to do the other side of the game as well.
“If you play up front, you have to win headers, get hold of the ball, make runs and get in behind the back four.
“One of the big problems we’ve got is this: I believe there are only three ways you can affect a back four and get some penetration: you go around it, through it or over it. At the moment the only one we’ve got is going around it, with Gary Teale, who seems to be getting in quite regularly.
“Sometimes his cross isn’t the best, because of the side he’s playing on.”
Accurate balls from Teale made chances from which the Owls could have scored against Notts County.
Megson added: “We’re finding ourselves having to score goals like Giles Coke’s against Plymouth [a solo run and shot from 22 yards] and from set-pieces. That’s not going to happen every week.
“We have to get a lot more penetration into our game.”
Another danger tonight will come from George Boyd, who has scored six goals in the last five games and has a total of 13.
With Posh in third place, a point behind Huddersfield with a game in hand, and nine points behind leaders Brighton, Boyd said: “If we keep playing like we are doing who knows what might happen? We are certainly playing well enough to win the title.
Midfield player Tommy Rowe said: “The lads at the back deserve great credit for the recent run.
“We’ve become really difficult to break down and everyone is taking a lot of confidence from that.”
Home help - Owls struggle for form on own patch
WHEN Sheffield Wednesday’s sixth goal crashed in against Bristol Rovers back on December 11, many Owls fans looked forward with confidence to a return to the Championship.
Wednesday were sitting pretty in second position, the highest they had been since topping the League One table in September.
But then a disastrous drop in form resulted in a slide of 14 places.
Away form has picked up with seven points from the last three trips.
But the Owls have collected only three points out of 15 at Hillsborough since the Bristol Rovers game.
Only six League One teams have worse home form than the Owls over the season.
Tonight, though, Gary Megson will be hoping for a turning point against Peterborough.