BEN Marshall is set for a farewell performance against Charlton in what Gary Megson regards as a tougher test for the Owls than their Cup clash with West Ham.
The Championship promotion-chasers made seven changes but the League One leaders will be at full strength as they bid to become the first side to win at Hillsborough this season and pull further away from Wednesday.
There is serious doubt about whether Marshall will be staying, with his loan about to come to an end, his contract talks with Stoke unresolved, and other clubs wanting him.
Owls fans will hope that the left-winger, arguably the team’s best player, can put on a show against the Addicks - but boss Megson feels that it would be hard for him to improve on the form that he has already produced and has made him a favourite of the fans.
Megson also feels that attempting to buy the 20-year-old may be the only option if the club are to keep him, and if he goes, he will be a hard act to follow.
“If Ben isn’t here, we will have to find somebody who we can afford, who we can loan, who is available in January, can get five goals in 20 games and make about 15 others, is a constant threat to the opposition and a great lad in the dressing room,” said the manager.
“If anybody knows where we can get one of those, give us a ring! We have to do everything we possibly can to get Ben.”
Megson said that he understood the left-wing
er’s talks with Stoke were at an impasse.
“Ben will play his last game [of his loan] for us against Charlton. There are other clubs interested in him. We have to get the Charlton game out of the way, then see how everything is,” he said.
Rivals have been alerted by Marshall’s success on loan.
Megson added: “These are the problems you get when loan players do well. You become chief scout for a lot of other clubs.”
Marshall played in a 1-1 draw at The Valley. But Megson pointed out that the side has been strengthened since then: “We’re a lot different. Hopefully we can get a result, doing what we’re doing.
“We didn’t start the season at all strongly, in terms of the players we had available. We’re doing okay at the moment, but it will be a massive test for us [on Saturday.]
“Playing against West Ham is always going to be a tough test, but it won’t be as tough as Charlton is going to be.”
Megson respects the outfit who have made more than 20 signings this season. “They’ve brought in a lot players and are the best side in the division. ,“ he said. “But we’ve got a good team and we’re flying at Hillsborough, where we have the backing of thousands of Wednesdayites, which is a big plus for us.”
Teams and ref
OWLS (possible): Weaver; Otsemobor, Batth, R Jones, R Johnson; M Jones, Lines, Semedo, Marshall; O’Grady, Morrison or Lowe or Watt or J Johnson (4-4-2).
ADDICKS (possible): Hamer; Solly, Morrison, Taylor, Wiggins; Green, Hollands, Pritchard, Jackson; Kermorgant, Wright-Phillips (4-4-2).
Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire). Handled the Owls’ 5-0 win at Hartlepool last season, and sent off Giles Coke in the 3-0 defeat at Tranmere in February. Last Friday he took the Liverpool v Oldham game, in which the Latics’ Tom Adeyemi was distressed by racist abuse from a home fan.
One to watch
Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Bradley Wright-Phillips, Charlton’s top scorer with 14 goals, has not netted in his last eight games? The nimble little forward who put Wednesday one down at The Valley with a sweet strike into the bottom corner seems sure to be a threat once again.
The clubs have been fairly evenly matched in their league and cup meetings. There have been 18 wins for Wednesday, 16 for Charlton and 12 draws. The last four games have seen two draws and one home win each.