Sheffield Wednesday’s fringe players will get their chance to impress in the club’s Championship finale at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With a Play-Off place already secured, head coach Carlos Carvalhal has revealed he will rest some of his key players ahead of the Champinship Play-Offs.
Carvalhal, a big believer in squad rotation, has confirmed Sam Hutchinson and Fernando Forestieri will not take part in the Owls’ final match of the regular campaign.
It is unlikely any of Keiren Westwood, Tom Lees, Glenn Loovens, Kieran Lee, Barry Bannan and Gary Hooper will be risked at Molineux as Carvalhal finalises his plans for the end-of-season shootout.
Joe Wildsmith, Liam Palmer, Michael Turner, Vincent Sasso, Jeremy Helan, Lewis McGugan, Jose Semedo and Marco Matias are all in contention to start.
Midfield duo McGugan and Semedo have not started since their shock FA Cup defeat at Shrewsbury Town over three months ago.
Tomorrow’s clash could be Semedo’s final appearance in Owls colours. His contract expires in the summer.
Speaking at his press briefing yesterday, Carvalhal said: “All of our players have started in the first XI during the season. Some of them have had more chances to play than others, because some have had a fantastic season and those in the shadows, it’s not easy to play.
“That’s not their failure or attitude, it’s just because they don’t have too many opportunities.
“On Saturday, we have a chance to play the players who haven’t played often, but they have started for the first team this season. They deserve to play. We will take the game seriously, we will have a lot fans there.”
Carvalhal included Hutchinson in his match-day squad last Saturday as the Owls brushed aside Cardiff City 3-0 at Hillsborough to cement a top-six finish. A bout of glandular fever kept Hutchinson on the sidelines for a month and, in his absence, Alex Lopez has sparkled in the midfield engine room.
Although Hutchinson is itching to make his first-team comeback, Carvalhal is mindful of the Chelsea youngster’s disciplinary record.
“Sam will not be involved because of the situation with cards; he has 13 yellow cards,” he said. “He’s a special case, and we don’t want to take any risk of losing him.
“If he picked up two yellow cards he would be ruled out with suspension.
“He won’t be involved on Saturday, either, because it doesn’t make sense for him to risk getting another yellow card.
“We want him to be available for the play-offs.
“Fernando is also a player who we don’t want to take risks with. We must protect him. These are two players who I can say in public I am protecting.
“After this, we will pick the best XI players to win the game.
“Against Newcastle we changed something like eight or nine players, and this is a game when we will do something similar.
“It’s the best way to manage our squad. It’s important we trust all our players, because if we don’t trust them, we will not change.”
After a year of progress, Carvalhal has called on his players to focus on Wolves as the Owls look to finish with a flourish.
He said: “Promotion and money is not important to me (at this time). Because I know to achieve these things, you have to work hard and focus on the games.
“We are concentrating on the Wolves game. After the Wolves, we will prepare for the Play-Offs.
“Afterwards, we can get the consequences of our work and dedication. That’s how I think.
“We solved the problem last week, beating Cardiff helped a lot. We can prepare for the Play-Offs much better and we have a week without pressure.
“Pressure is the enemy of perfection and creativity.
“It’s a real positive that we reached the Play-Offs a week before the end of the season.”
Whoever Wednesday face in the Semi-Finals, Carvalhal is adamant they will be rank outsiders to reach Wembley and prevail in the knockout tournament.
He said: “We have a 25 per cent chance of winning the Play-Offs. We are not favourites, but underdogs, even with 25 per cent.”