Sheffield Wednesday: Owls are '˜not afraid' of promotion-chasing Fulham

Sheffield Wednesday take on the most in-form team in the country tomorrow.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 5th April 2018, 8:20 pm
Fulham teenager Ryan Sessegnon
Fulham teenager Ryan Sessegnon

You have to go back to December 16 for the last time Fulham lost in the Championship.

The Cottagers, managed by Slavisa Jokanovic, are currently on a club-record 18-match unbeaten league run.

Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon has notched 14 goals this season

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Their 2-0 midweek victory over Leeds United maintained their automatic promotion charge, closing the gap to second-placed Cardiff City to five points having played a match more.

Owls chief Jos Luhukay said: “Fulham are one of the best teams. They have a lot of quality in every position.

“They are a very good footballing team. They don’t play with long balls. They always play with a good plan.

“They have in every situation solutions. Fulham are a very good opponent so we must have a top performance.

Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic

“It is a very good challenge for us to play against this Fulham team. When we have played the top six (teams) in the last few months, we have played very good games and also got some results. It is also possible on Saturday.

“We are not afraid. We have a lot of respect for Fulham but I believe in my team that we can give them a good game and hopefully at the end give our supporters a good result.”

If Wednesday are to cause an upset and complete the league double over Fulham, keeping teenage starlet Ryan Sessegnon quiet could hold the key. The 17-year-old left-sided player has starred for the West London club, netting 14 goals in 40 league appearances. His stellar form has resulted in him being nominated for the Championship Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Apprentice of the Year awards.

Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon has notched 14 goals this season

Sessegnon has also been named in the Championship Team of the Season.

“Ryan is one of the best players in this position I think in the league,” said Luhukay. “He has scored 14 goals as a left winger. It’s not normal.

“He’s very high effecient. He has speed and is very good one against one.

“He can give the final pass, cross and can score goals.

Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic

“He has a lot of individual quality to give every defence a problem. We must not look alone to him but he is one of the dangerous players for Fulham.”

Despite their superb sequence of results, Jokanovic is refusing to take the Owls lightly. He has warned his players not to underestimate the threat Wednesday forwards Lucas Joao and Atdhe Nuhiu will pose. Between them, Joao and Nuhiu have found the back of the net seven times in their last three fixtures.

Jokanovic said: “We’ve known Nuhiu many years.

“Along with Joao, they play with two strong, tall strikers. It’s not easy for us to find a solution in this kind of situation.

“We are going to try to find a way to cut out the crosses and not drop into our box and have to defend close to our goal.

“Nuhiu is an experienced man who’s always scored the goals and has good momentum, too.

“In the last few games he scored an important number of goals and we must be careful about him, but in this team you also have Joao, [Barry] Bannan, [Fernando] Forestieri who is back.

“They have many experienced players who have many battles behind them, and they can be really dangerous for us.”

Describing the Owls as an “expensive team with quality players,” the Serbian added: “The last two years they were near the top of the Championship. It’s not easy to always be there, they found some kind of problem this season.

“Now it’s a different situation for this team with a new coach. It’s only two months, they tried to change some players, they tried to change their shape. They have many experienced players who can adapt themselves in different plans.

“They have great momentum from the last few games and Hillsborough is never an easy place to play or to win the game.

“We expect a tough and complicated game, from our side we must be ready and push hard and fight for the points like we always do.”