Sheffield Wednesday: Jos Luhukay prepares to do battle without Barry Bannan
Jos Luhukay has called on his Sheffield Wednesday players to step up in the absence of key man Barry Bannan against Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion this week.
The 12th-placed Owls head into Wednesday's home clash with Darren Moore's table-toppers without their midfield talisman who will serve a one-match ban after collecting five bookings.
Luhukay admitted the loss of playmaker Bannan is "frustrating" and is demanding 100 per cent effort from his 12th-placed side against the Hillsborough visitors who took over top spot with a 3-2 away win at Preston North End at the weekend.
"We must handle it as a team," the manager said. "The quality of Barry is not easy to replace but we will try to pick the best team for West Brom and we will give everything."
Bannan, a scorer of spectacular goals against Millwall and Stoke City, has been an ever-present under Luhukay this term as Wednesday have closed to within a point of the play-off spots.
It was only a matter of time before the Scottish international picked up a suspension and his fifth yellow card duly arrived in last Friday's 1-1 draw with high-flying Leeds United when he slid in late on Samuel Saiz in the second half.
"It is frustrating he will miss Wednesday," Luhukay acknowledged. "We know how important Barry is. He was on four yellow cards for two weeks and we knew the fifth would be a ban."
One of the players the Owls will look to for inspiration against the Baggies is Adam Reach, scorer of a long-range wonder volley in last week's Yorkshire derby.
"We are constantly learning, tweaking systems and rotating players," the winger said. "We are trying to find our best team and formation, but I think everyone can see we are on the up and improving from last season.Â
After taking just a single point from their opening three outings, Wednesday have lost only once in their last seven league games.
"I think we are getting better and better under this manager and hopefully that can continue," Reach said.
Following an end-to-end opening period, the Owls survived a second-half onslaught against Leeds, a week after beating pre-season promotion favourites Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park.
Marcelo Bielsa's outfit had come to Hillsborough in top spot before being dropped to second by West Brom's triumph at Deepdale the next day
"We are not that far away from the top of the table," Reach said. "I think we showed at times we can match a team like Leeds."