Carlos tells Owls to maintain high standards in final seven matches

Sitting next to Carlos Carvalhal at his press briefing yesterday, he had a look of steely determination in his eyes.

Monday, 4th April 2016, 9:33 pm
Carlos Carvalhal hugs Owls' ex-Huddersfield player Jack Hunt at the final whistle on Saturday. Photo: Steve Ellis

Although Wednesday have made great strides under his tutelage, the passionate Portuguese head coach refuses to take his eyes off the prize.

In the race for promotion, there are likely to be plenty of twists and turns over the coming weeks.

However, the Owls look well equipped to seal a Championship play-off place. With seven matches to go, their destiny is in their own hands.

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Carvalhal told The Star: “Our players are not over training and are with full energy for the second part of the season. Our physical performance is fantastic all the time in the second half of games.

“It is important we don’t over train as the Championship is the hardest competition in the world with the days we have to recover and the intensity we have to play at.

“It is not a sprint. It is a marathon. In the marathon, you must balance your energy as there are a lot of athletes that start in the first position and then after half of the marathon they come down and there are some of them who don’t start so well who have the energy to finish the race.

“It is not the way you start in the competition. It is the way that you finish.”

As Wednesday prepare to embark on a “crucial period” in their season, Carvalhal will be without Barry Bannan again at home to Blackburn Rovers tonight. The influential midfielder, who was sold by Rovers boss Paul Lambert when the pair were together at Aston Villa, completes his three-match suspension for his red card at Nottingham Forest last month.

Bannan was spotted cheering on the team amongst the near 4,000 Wednesday fans in Saturday’s win over Huddersfield Town.

“I like that my players see the games,” admitted Carvalhal. “It is up to them where they watch the games.

“I knew that Barry was there. He wanted to be with our fans. It is a good sign of the connection between the players and the fans. It is a good example that he gave.”

He joked: “Barry is little but he screams very well!”

For the vast majority of the campaign, Carvalhal has cut a calm, laid-back figure. Is he feeling any nerves as we enter the final stretch?

He said: “Nothing has changed in the last three months. We are focused on the team, analysing our opponents and correcting our mistakes. When you win, not everything is perfect. There are things that are not working and that we must improve.

“We are focused on our work. We are completely normal.”

The Owls chief, who has confirmed left-back Daniel Pudil is in contention to start after recovering from the minor knock he suffered on international duty, is happy Shane Duffy will be missing for Blackburn. The big defender serves a one-match ban in the wake of his dismissal against Preston Noth End.

“Blackburn will be a tough game and completely different to Huddersfield,” he said.

“They are a strong, compact team. They are good at set pieces. They will miss [Shane] Duffy. He’s a big threat in their team, especially at set pieces so that’s a good point for us.”

Rovers manager Lambert says he is not surprised to see the Owls challenging for promotion.

“They’ve invested,” said the Scot, who’s first home match in charge of Rovers came against Wednesday last November. “It’s not rocket science when you ask why are they are up there? If you put more investment into it, it works. That’s not to say this club hasn’t invested in the past because it has. But if you do invest in something it can do what they’re doing.”

Winger Aiden McGeady spurned Rovers advances in February, opting in favour of a temporary move to Hillsborough. Explaining why he chose the Owls over Rovers, Lambert said: “(Money) and where they are in the table. I don’t know what the deal between Sheffield Wednesday and Everton was and Aiden himself but he chose them and sometimes you get them and sometimes they slip through your grasp.”