Sheffield Wednesday: Owls forward Atdhe Nuhiu primed for '˜physical' Tractor Boys test
Towering striker Atdhe Nuhiu has described tomorrow's opponents Ipswich Town as one of the 'ugliest teams to play against' in the Championship.
The former Rapid Vienna player expects a bruising encounter when the Owls welcome the eighth-placed Tractor Boys to Hillsborough aiming to get their play-off challenge back on track.
“I have played Ipswich a few times in the last three years,” Nuhiu told The Star. “They are one of the most direct and physical teams in the league.
“They are probably one of the ugliest teams to play against. Their style will never change. They have their one way to play.
“Everybody knows Ipswich are a tough team to beat and are always 100 per cent in challenges.
“They work hard and have earned the respect from other teams.”
Despite Ipswich’s direct brand of football, Nuhiu is optimistic Wednesday can prevail.
He said: “You have to battle against them, but I think we have got the players to get stuck in. If we win our challenges, I think football wise we can damage them. That’s what we have done all season.
“If we win our battles, everybody knows we have a lot of quality in the final third which can make a difference.”
With five matches remaining, the Owls are currently eight points ahead of Ipswich. For the Tractor Boys to retain any hopes of gatecrashing the top-six, victory is essential at S6.
But Carlos Carvalhal’s troops have got a point to prove themselves after Saturday’s unexpected 4-1 drubbing at Bristol City. Defensively Wednesday made a number of uncharacteristic mistakes as they crashed to their heaviest defeat under Carvalhal.
“We know it wasn’t a good game for us,” conceded Nuhiu. “It was a disappointing result and performance.
“It was a bad day at the office but it can happen to anybody. It was a wake up call.
“Of course, when you lose a game, nobody is happy. We weren’t at our best and we know that.
“We had a meeting with the manager and he explained what went wrong. We have got to learn and improve.
“We are not perfect. We were not at our best but we still gave everything.”
After the final whistle at Ashton Gate, Carvalhal unusually held a team-talk on the pitch with his squad.
When pressed on what was said in the huddle, Nuhiu said: “He [Carvalhal] doesn’t want our heads to drop and that was his main point. He said these kind of things can happen but we win and lose together.
“We can’t let our heads go down after one bad result and forget about all the good things we have done this season. Carlos said he doesn’t want to see that from any of us.”
Wednesday know they can take a giant step towards cementing a play-off spot by claiming a 13th home success this weekend.
“Everybody is focused in training so I’m sure we will respond well,” said five-goal forward Nuhiu. “You can either focus on the positives or the negatives.
“There is no point in the last few games being negative. We have to stick together and look at the positives.
“It is important we don’t allow any negativity from outside to hurt us.
“People should not forget that we beat Huddersfield and Blackburn before the Bristol game. It was a busy period and we played a lot of games, but we are not using that as an excuse for our performance at Bristol.
“When we have had a bad result in the past, we have bounced back. That’s what the big teams do and we will react on Saturday and try to win the game.”
Regardless of what happens between now and May 7, Nuhiu is adamant Wednesday can be pleased with the progress they have made.
The 26-year-old, who signed a contract extension in January, said: “We have done really well this season. Nobody can deny that. It is a matter of a fact.
“We are in a good position and nobody can dispute that, but we have not done anything yet. We all recognise that.
“We will be managing these last five games well and making sure we don’t give up on this opportunity that we have worked so hard for.”