Sheffield Wednesday: Loovens boost for Owls

Glenn Looovens went off during the game against Birmingham
Glenn Looovens went off during the game against Birmingham
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Glenn Loovens has been passed fit to face QPR at Hillsborough tonight and maintain his blossoming partnership with Oguchi Onyewu.

It is another big test for the centre-back duo whose contracts run out at the end of the season and will be looking to secure their longer-term futures through consistent form for the Owls.

It also a special occasion for Onyewu: the USA international spent three months at Loftus Road this season but, short of first-team opportunities, joined Wednesday for the regular football he needs to have a chance of playing in the World Cup finals.

Loovens had a little spell out of the Owls team recently with a hamstring problem so it was something of a worry when he went off in the 75th minute of Saturday’s game against Birmingham with hamstring tightness.

But he was able to train yesterday, so Stuart Gray could name an unchanged back four, though fit-again Joe Mattock is challenging for the left-back spot.

Right back Lewis Buxton would be “more than happy” if Loovens and Onyewu land new deals: “They’ve looked very solid together.” Chris Kirkland may start this time after feeling his calf again in the warm-up on Saturday, but Gray would have no qualms about playing Damian Martinez again.

With Sam Hutchinson a doubt with a knee knock suffered in Saturday’s 4-1 win, which caused swelling, it would be a blow if he fails to make it affter his impressive display alongside Kieran Lee in midfield.

If Hutchinson is out, Giles Coke or David Prutton could step in. Gray said that a decision on Hutchinson will be left as late as possible.

Adedeji Oshilaja would have been another midfield option had he not been ruled out again by his toe injury - Gray hopes he will be fit for Saturday’s match at Doncaster.

While awaiting the formal extension of Oshilaja’s loan from Cardiff, Gray has also had an eye on the March 27 loan deadline, not ruling out further signings: “I don’t want complacency to creep in.”

He acknowledges the huge depth of talent available to tonight’s rival manager: “I think Harry (Redknapp) has got around 15 players who could still a job in the Premier League. It will be a good test for us, not one we fear. Sometimes as a player you have to test yourself in a one v one battle and make sure you come out on top.

“Harry is probably disappointed they’re not close to the automatic promotion places. Leicester are rompiong away at the top, and Burnley are pulling away in second. I fancy QPR or Wigan to go up from a play-off final.

“I’ve known Harry for many years. He gets the best out of his players; he’s probably been saying this game against us is the sort they have to win if they are to have any hope of finishing in the top two.”

Wednesday were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at Loftus Road in the first match of the season.

They should have had had two penalties for challenges on Michail Antonio and Jacques Maghoma.

If a foul had been given in the Maghoma incident, instead of him being booked for diving, Joey Barton might well have received a second yellow card.

Atdhe Nuhiu had hit an impressive goal on his debut, cutting inside on his left foot to drill a shot into the bottom corner.

But Nedum Onuoha and Andrew Johnson put Redknapp’s side side ahead before half time.

Gray has every confidence in the current Wednesday side: “If we have eight or nine playing to their maximum, the result will take care of itself. We want to finish as high as possible.”