Two of Sheffield Wednesday’s senior players will be walking a disciplinary tightrope in the heat of Saturday’s crunch Yorkshire derby at Leeds United.
Left-back Joe Mattock and versatile forward Chris Maguire are both perilously close to triggering one-match suspensions, having each collected four bookings this season.
The duo, who have started every single match during the 2014/15 campaign, picked up yellow cards in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town. The cut off point is December 31.
Skipper Glenn Loovens has already served a one-match ban - he missed the trip to Bolton Wanderers last month - after receiving five cautions.
While Mattock and Maguire will have to be on their best behaviour at Elland Road, Owls head coach Stuart Gray hopes Tom Lees will be passed fit to face his old club. The commanding centre-half has missed the club’s last two outings due to a hamstring problem he sustained in the drubbing at Manchester City.
Given Kamil Zayatte, who was sent for a scan on his hamstring yesterday, is a big doubt for the weekend, it would be a major boost for Gray if Lees was available for selection.
The Owls boss said: “Tom trained with the fitness coach on Tuesday so he’s got an outside chance of being fit for Saturday. With Zayatte being injured, we may have to rush it on a little bit.”
Gray resisted the temptation to bring back influential midfield duo Kieran Lee and Sam Hutchinson in midweek.
“Hopefully we will have Sam and Kieran available for Leeds,” he said. “It will be like two new signings getting them back.”
Wednesday, linked with Moroccan midfielder Houssine Kharja, who is a free agent, have accrued 16 points from their opening 10 Championship fixtures and Gray is satisfied with the start they have made.
He said: “It’s a big improvement on last season. The league table doesn’t lie. We were all disappointed with the Millwall and Bolton games where we threw points away.
“The boys deserve a lot of credit but there is still a long way to go.”