Overloads and a Huddersfield Town danger man - Expert on what Sheffield Wednesday should expect from Hartlepool United

After a three-from-three group stage success in the Papa Johns Trophy, Sheffield Wednesday are three rounds from Wembley.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 3:00 pm

Old friends Hartlepool United – in League Two – are the their next opponents in a round of 32 clash to be played at Hillsborough on Wednesday evening.

We spoke to the Hartlepool Mail’s Pools writer Joe Ramage for the inside scoop on what Owls fans should expect.

How are Hartlepool shaping up in general this season?

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

Mark Cullen could lead the line for Hartlepool United at Sheffield Wednesday tonight.

If you’d asked this a month ago I would have said very well, but all of a sudden things are a little bit fragile.

It’s been a long month for Pools and they're having to endure a rocky transition period after Dave Challinor’s exit while their search for a new manager continues.

There was always going to be a time where Pools would struggle this season having come up from the National League and while it’s not panic stations just yet, they need a result or two, particularly in the league, to settle things down a bit.

How big a day out will a trip to Hillsborough be for them?

I’m sure it will be a one they are looking forward to, regardless of the competition.

Hillsborough has that aura about it as one of the better ‘old school grounds’ and it’s a chance for them to test themselves against higher level opposition so I’m sure they’re looking forward to it. Plus, there’s a bit of a connection between the two clubs given that play-off final, albeit 16 years ago.

There were over 300 Pools fans at Vale Park on Saturday who received high praise for their backing and I would imagine there will be similar numbers at Hillsborough on Wednesday.

What should Wednesday fans expect to see from them in terms of system and style of play?

Pools have largely operated with wing-backs in a 5-3-2 system but interim manager Antony Sweeney mixed things up on Saturday at Port Vale by reverting to a back four.

The fullbacks David Ferguson and Jamie Sterry, who has been out suspended, play an important role. Assuming Sweeney takes the team again it will be interesting to see if he switches back to the tried and tested or sticks with the four.

Pools are a team who like to get it down and play and create overloads in the wide areas but they have been struggling to create opportunities in the box lately which has been their achilles heel.

Who are the players to look out for?

Sweeney, should he be in charge, hinted at changes to the Pools XI so there could be a big difference to the XI who started on Saturday.

While Mark Cullen has had little to feed off in recent weeks he remains a threat in the penalty area should he start.

Matty Daly, on-loan from Huddersfield Town, has been impressive of late and has scored in every game of the competition so far this season.

Ferguson gets up and down the left-hand-side of the pitch well and has great delivery but, again, he may be one of those to miss out given the busy schedule of late with an FA Cup tie at Lincoln City and an important league game with Rochdale to come in the next seven days.