Sheffield Wednesday: Owls seek strong finish

Owls boss Stuart Gray
Owls boss Stuart Gray
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Stuart Gray will keep the pressure on his players to perform even though they are now mathematically safe.

The Owls manager vows ahead of today’s Hillsborough game against Charlton: “I still won’t allow complacency to come in.

“We’ve got nine points to go for and I want us to get as many as we can.”

There is also a score to settle with the Addicks, who escaped being beaten by Wednesday at The Valley and dumped them out of the FA Cup.

That knockout when a quarter-final against Sheffield United and a possible semi-final beckoned is still something that irritates Gray.

“I still feel disappointment when I think of the opportunity we had,” he admits.

“We can now have a say on what happens at the bottom end.”

He will have some fresh legs in the side for a second game in four days, and after the team played for around half an hour at Bournemouth with 10 men.

Sent-off Sam Hutchinson gets a two-match ban instead of the usual one as it was his second red card of the season. H e was also dismissed in last month’s 2-0 defeat at Yeovil.

Liam Palmer, who was the club’s Player of the Month for March and has won the Wise Old Owls’ Player of the Year award, looks certain to replace Lewis Buxton at right-back, as he did during the second half at Dean Court.

Buxton damaged knee ligaments in a tackle and, with less than a fortnight of the season left, there must be a doubt about him being able to play before it ends.

Hutchinson will miss Saturday’s Hillsborough clash with Bolton and be available only for the finale at Ipswich.

Atdhe Nuhiu justified his selection ahead of Leon Best at Bournemouth but it looks likely that Best will start today - perhaps Nuhiu as well.

Gray will be a little concerned that suddenly the midfield resources have been depleted, with Palmer having to revert to right-back, where he did a sound job earlier in the season while Buxton was injured, and with Hutchinson out.

Giles Coke, who played as sub last Friday, seems an obvious choice to start today.

Paul Corry could come back into the 18 as back-up.

Glenn Loovens still felt tightness in his hamstring so did not return at Bournemouth. But Gray feels that the form of Miguel Llera and Oguchi Onyewu at Dean Court bodes well for today’s game if Loovens is still not ready - and behind them Chris Kirkland was in command with his catching of crosses and shot-stopping.

He is pleased to have seen forwards flourish over the last couple of games, with Atdhe Nuhiu scoring twice against Blackburn and following that with a beauty last Friday.

“Atdhe had good ball retention against Bournemouth and scored a great goal You want your subs to have an impact on the game and I thought Leon did ever so well.”