Keiren Westwood has conceded that it will be a difficult task for Sheffield Wednesday to secure automatic promotion this season.
The Owls number one made the admission after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to top-six rivals Reading.
After 20 matches, Wednesday trail leaders Newcastle United by 12 points and are 11 adrift of second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion.
Westwood believes finishing in the play-offs for a second successive season is a more realistic target for Carlos Carvalhal’s men.
The goalkeeper told The Star: “Let’s be realistic; at the moment the top-two is a bit of a stretch for us. Both Newcastle and Brighton are strong sides. There is a big gap between us and them but you never know.
“It’s a real outside chance now. I think we have got to be looking at making the play-offs now. I don’t think you can look badly on the season if you are in the top-six.”
The Owls are preparing for a home double-header this week, entertaining Barnsley tomorrow night before welcoming Rotherham United to Hillsborough on Saturday.
“We will have a look at where we are in the New Year,” insisted Westwood. “We are a good side.
“Hopefully we will be in the top-six and we will have a right good go.”
David Jones and Almen Abdi face a race against time to be fit for the Barnsley duel. The midfield pair missed out on the trip to the Madejski Stadium after picking up injuries in training last Friday.
Carvalhal said: “Let’s see if they will recover. I believe Jono and Abdi will be ready very soon because their injuries aren’t very serious.”