THESE are heady days indeed at Oldham Athletic.
Expectation levels have soared sharply at Boundary Park after an unforgettable week.
After beating Bradford in the semi-finals of the Northern section of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night, Paul Dickov’s men are now 180 minutes away from a day out at Wembley.
The in-form Latics are the highest-ranked side left in the draw and will fancy their chances of beating Chesterfield to clinch a spot at the national stadium.
There is also the prospect of a trip to Premier League aristocrats Liverpool in the New Year if they overcome Southend in a second round replay in the FA Cup.
However, Dickov wants his players to forget about their cup exploits and has urged them to concentrate on climbing up the table in League One. Oldham are currently in 12th position, five points adrift of the top six placings.
“The boys are determined to keep in touch with the play-offs,” Dickov said.
“The cup games are fantastic but all our focus is on Saturday.
“We’ve shown recently that we’re a good team; we’re six games undefeated and won four in a row at home.”
Shorn of the services of Nathan Clarke and James Wesolowski, who are set to serve one-match bans after picking up their fifth yellow cards of the season in the 2-0 win over Bradford, Dickov is poised to recall Zander Diamond, who has recovered from a knee injury, at centre half while captain Dean Furman will come into central midfield in place of Wesolowski following his ban.
Andreas Mancini, the son of Manchester City boss Roberto, will be included on the substitutes bench after the Citizens youngster extended his loan stint at Oldham earlier this week.
“We can get better but there’s no better test than Sheffield Wednesday to show how far we’ve come recently; they’re a great club with a great set of fans,” said Dickov. “Gary [Megson] has put together not just a team, but a really strong squad of players who have played at a higher level.
“Gary has shown what a good manager he is because they were struggling when he went there, but they’re second in the league and one of the favourites to go up.
“We gave them a good test last season and if the boys give me the same application as against Bradford on Tuesday, as against Southend last Saturday, and as against Bournemouth the week before, then we’ll get a result.”
One to watch
Former Sheffield Wednesday star Shefki Kuqi took his tally to 13 goals in 19 appearances in midweek. The Finland international, who arrived on a free transfer in August, has forged a promising partnership with Robbie Simpson up front.