Sheffield Wednesday: Steve Bruce on Fernando Forestieri, injuries and Frank Lampard’s Derby County
Frank Lampard and Steve Bruce are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of experience in football management.
Chelsea legend Lampard has taken charge of less than 50 matches while Bruce is approaching 1,000 in his eventful career.
But Lampard, in his managerial debut season, has led the Rams to seventh — level on goal difference with sixth-placed Bristol City heading into the final 11 fixtures.
Bruce, whose Owls side go to Pride Park this weekend, told The Star: "I'm delighted for Frank's brigade that him and Stevie (Steven Gerrard) have gone into management because we need some you ng, up-and-coming English managers.
"It is good to see Frank making a good fist of it."
Tuesday's come-from-behind home victory over Wigan Athletic was just Derby's second win in eight outings in all competitions since the beginning of February. Victory ended a run of three successive league defeats.
Bruce said: "Whenever you go to Derby, you know it is going to be tough. They have had a little bit of a dodgy run but everybody has that.
"They got a hard-fought win the other night and I'm expecting a difficult game like they all over whether you go to Derby, Wigan or Rotherham. They are all a challenge."
Derby fell short in the play-offs last year, losing in the semi-finals over two legs to eventual winners Fulham.
"They have been there or thereabouts for the last five years," said Bruce. "Derby are very tough and are always a team, with the squad of players they have got, that you look for to be there or thereabouts."
Lampard, meanwhile, is full of admiration for the job Bruce has done in turning around the Owls' fortunes. Under Bruce’s astute leadership, Wednesday have picked up 13 points from seven outings.
On the prospect of taking on the Owls, Lampard said: “They are a tough proposition. They are on a good run of form, they’ve shot up the table.
“He (Bruce) seems to have brought an uplift in atmosphere around the club.
“He’s a great football man and is good with people.
“It’s no surprise to me what he’s doing there.
“It’s a completely different game to when we went there earlier in the season.”
It is a potentially defining period for Bruce's side in their attempts to gatecrash the top-six. After Saturday's trip to Derby, Wednesday go to cash-strapped Bolton Wanderers be fore a home tussle with Blackburn Rovers the weekend after.
Wednesday are currently in 13th position, six points off the play-offs, with 11 matches remaining.
Bruce said: "Two weeks ago we were 12 [points off the play-offs]. We've got to make sure, can we go another six unbeaten?
"Can we win four or five of them? they're big games. We'll see how good we are and how we recover for Derby. So we will look forward to that challenge.
"They come thick and fast now and we have got three games before the break so let's see what we can do."
Wednesday could have to freshen up their forward line, with Fernando Forestieri a major injury concern. Forestieri may face a spell on the sidelines after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring problem in Monday's Steel City derby. The skilful attacker was withdrawn at half-time and replaced by George Boyd.
"He is just not comfortable with it," acknowledged Bruce. "He hasn't pulled it but it is just a never ending circle with him where he is feeling something. When it is a muscle injury, you have to err on the side of caution."
Forestieri has joined a mounting injury list, leaving Bruce short of attacking options. His only fit, recognised strikers are currently Steven Fletcher and Atdhe Nuhiu.
Bruce said: "Probably the reason why I am here is the number of injuries and the recurrence of injuries. when you look at Kieran Lee, (Gary) Hooper, (Sam) Winnall, Forestieri it's endless. All long term big ones that we can't seem to get back on the pitch.”
It remains to be seen when Lucas Joao will return to action. The nine-goal forward has not featured in the last two matches as he is still trying to overcome a knee injury.
The trip to Derby also comes too soon for Gary Hooper.