Sheffield Wednesday: Strong competition for places key to play-off tilt, says Owls goal ace

Ross Wallace
Ross Wallace
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Wednesday winger Ross Wallace is convinced the healthy competition for places at Hillsborough is driving his side’s promotion bid.

Wallace grabbed the winner in the Owls’ hard-fought 2-1 victory at home to Blackburn Rovers in midweek.

Boss Carlos Carvalhal, a big believer in squad rotation, shuffled his pack, bringing in Daniel Pudil and Lucas Joao as Wednesday recorded their fourth consecutive victory to stay fifth in the Championship.

Wallace told The Star: “We have got a good squad of players. We have got guys on the bench who are not even getting a sniff at the minute who could easily come in and play in this team.

“Carlos [Carvalhal] is not afraid to change it. If you are not playing well, even at half-time, he will take you off. It is as simple as that. It keeps everyone on their toes.

“We have got good players who are ready to come in and take your position if you are not at the races. It is good for the squad and club. Everybody wants to do well.

“If we keep winning games, everyone will get the rewards at the end of the season whether it is promotion or financially. It is important we stick together and keep pushing in the right direction.”

The battle for a starting berth is set to intensify in central midfield, with Jose Semedo back in the fold following a personal problem and Barry Bannan available again after serving a three-match suspension. The Owls will be seeking to extend their unbeaten run to six matches when they head to relegation-threatened Bristol City on Saturday.

“We lost Baz [Bannan] for three games and we were disappointed with that with the way he was playing,” said Wallace, who has activated his contract option for next season. “Alex Lopez has just slotted in there and it has been like he has been in midfield all season. He has been fantastic in the last three games. He is a good technical player and has a great range of passing.

“The manager has got a headache whether he’s going to keep the same team or change it and bring people back in.

“Marco Matias had a pretty bad groin injury but he has looked sharp in training. He is looking for a way back in along with Lewis McGugan.

“Jose Semedo trains like an animal every day. I’ve got the marks to show it! He doesn’t slack off whether he’s not playing or in the squad. He trains hard every day and is so professional.

“We have got Sam [Hutchinson] who has been ill over the last few weeks and Baz still to come back in so we will get stronger. Baz has been in the changing room and dying to get back into the mix. There are lots of selection headaches for the manager to deal with.”

Tuesday’s victory helped Wednesday increase their lead over the chasing pack to five points. They are effectively six points clear over seventh-placed Cardiff due to their superior goal difference.

Four-goal Wallace said: “Blackburn was another win. We have been on runs before this season where we have picked up four or five wins in a row. We have done that all season.

“We are confident that we can cement our place in the play-off positions. Obviously we have got some tough games coming up. We have won four in the row but we move on now to the next game.”