Sheffield Wednesday: Hooper unconcerned over play-off rivals

Gary Hooper
Gary Hooper
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Gary Hooper insists he does not care who Sheffield Wednesday will face in the play-offs.

Wednesday will meet either Middlesbrough or Brighton and Hove Albion in the semi-finals – something which will be decided in Saturday’s clash between the two sides.

But Hooper says Wednesday are entirely focused on themselves so are not concerned over the identity of their play-off semi-final rivals.

“We play our own game and don’t worry about anyone else,” the striker said.

A draw for Derby County at Brighton yesterday ensured a sixth place finish for Wednesday, meaning the first leg of their semi-final will take place on Friday, May 13 at Hillsborough, with the second leg away the following Monday.

Burnley’s victory over Queens Park Rangers yesterday secured automatic promotion leaving Middlesbrough and Brighton to fight it out for the second berth.

If Middlesbrough avoid defeat to Brighton at the Riverside, they will win automatic promotion and consign Chris Hughton’s side to the play-offs. Brighton must win to drop Boro to third.

One of the two sides will face bitter disappointment, and that is something Hooper believes Wednesday can capitalise on.

He said: “We could in a way because they’re going for automatic.

“We’re in sixth, we know we’re in the play-offs already and we can prepare but anything can happen.

“But whoever it is, we have to play our own game and focus on ourselves.

“It’s the play-offs, anything can happen.”

Wednesday lost both their regular season games against Middlesbrough and battled out two goalless draws with Brighton.

Hooper’s focus on the Owls rather than their rivals is shared by Carlos Carvalhal.

The head coach says his side’s performances against the top five teams this season should give them confidence for the semi-finals, whomever the opposition may be.

“All of the teams will look to us as a threat,” Carvalhal said.

“Because if you saw the games we did against the strongest teams of the division, it was very balanced.

“We did not win any games against these five opponents, but I remember that we drew with Derby, Hull City, Brighton.

With Middlesbrough we lost the two games.

“They are balanced games all the time, very balanced.”