Battle of Pride Park – The key men as Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County fight for their lives
Winner stays up… Maybe.
It’s been billed as ‘Survival Saturday’, and for good reason. Sheffield Wednesday need to win to go stay up,. Derby County need to win to guarantee safety, and Rotherham United are still well in with a chance to beat the drop as well.
For the three teams, it’s now all or nothing, and the fact that Wednesday are playing Derby just gives it an even bigger level of drama.
We decided to take a look at who could be the key players in a bumper Saturday afternoon that will see two teams join Wycombe Wanderers – although they’re not mathematically done yet, of course – in the list of clubs battling it out in League One next season.
Here’s what we thought:
Josh Windass – Wednesday’s top scorer this season, their biggest goal threat and most willing runner. He’s been a thorn in the side of many a Championship side this season, and his pace and desire to press make him an important cog in this Owls side.
Add to that the fact that he’s one of the few to have really stepped up in the dying embers of what has been a miserable season, and it’s safe to say that he’s definitely a player that Rooney and his side will be keeping an eye on.
Barry Bannan – The Owls captain always gets spoken about my opposition managers. If Wednesday win, it’s because he played well, if they lose it’s because they managed to keep him quiet. He’s vital to this SWFC setup, and it’s no surprise to see that he’s started every single game this season.
As the midfield lynchpin, you can’t help but feel that if Wednesday are to get the win they need, then the recently announced Player of the Season will have a big role to play in getting it.
Colin Kazim-Richards – He’s by far and away Derby’s top scorer this season with eight Championship goals, and only three players have gotten more assists than he has (even if it is just two).
As a former Sheffield United player, there is an air of ‘it’s bound to be him’ about it from a Wednesday perspective, but that aside he is definitely their most dangerous player in terms of goal threat and has a world of experience too.
Nathan Byrne – A threat for the Rams down the right, and their top creator this season in terms of assists. Byrne has been used either as a right back or as a right midfielder, and his pace could cause problems for both Adam Reach and Julian Börner – not the quickest players by any stretch – should they start on the left.
He’s player more minutes than practically any other Derby player this season, and is no stranger to a relegation battle.
And don’t forget the Millers…
All eyes are on Pride Park, but a Rotherham win could possibly make what happens there count for nothing anyway. Paul Warne’s top scorers, Michael Smith and Freddie Ladapo, could well have a big say in proceedings