Sheffield Wednesday: Owls aim for lift-off

Atdhe Nuhiu is challenging for a recall against Yeovil
Atdhe Nuhiu is challenging for a recall against Yeovil
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Dave Jones is lining up changes as Wednesday bid to take full advantage of a visit from the Chamnpionship’s third-from-bottom side.

The Owls have already failed to beat next-to-bottom Millwall, though they had the opportunities to do so, and will see tomorrow’s clash with Yeovil as a chance not to be missed.

Jones is out to make the improvements in defending and goalscoring that can make the Owls’ season take off.

On-loan right back Jordan Spence challenges for a home debut after his steady performance in the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough a fortnight ago, when he was a late replacement for Lewis Buxton.

The quick recovery of Buxton from his hamstring trouble is good news for the club but if he is only just fit then the manager may be tempted to give him extra time, having been pleased with Spence’s debut at the Riverside Stadium.

The big change, of course, will be at centre half, with Anthony Gardner out for up to six months, and Miguel Llera, who took over during the Boro game, likely to get the chance to stake his claim after starting the season on the bench.

There could be a change up front as well.

Jones recalled Jermaine Johnson to partner Michail Antonio at Boro in a front two whose pace could catch the home team on the break in a counter-attacking style adopted by the team for this difficult away game.

At home, big Atdhe Nuhiu will come back into contention as a focal point of the attack, having been left out for the first time and made way for Johnson, at Boro.

JJ was taken off in the 61st minute, with Jones feeling that he was flagging, and this week he has been away in Jamaica - not ideal preparation, from a Wednesday perspective, as they prepare for this important game.

At least he avoided the risk of injury: he was an unused sub as Jamaica’s slim chances of qualifying for the World Cup finals took another blow with a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica in Kingston.

Jones did not mind, either, that Zayatte was sent off in Guinea’s 4-2 defeat in Egypt: he missed most of the second half so was not over-taxed.

The Owls will hope to build on their three successive draws - and Antonio is up and running after grabbing his first goal of the season, at Middlesbrough.

Jones believes that the team are not far away from being a real force in the division and have come close to having many more points than the tally of three that puts them ahead of Yeovil only on goal difference.

Yeovil are playing in the Championship for the first time, so it also the first time that they have experienced an international break.

Manager Gary Johnson said: “The Championship is intense and it gets more and more intense as you go up the levels. Sometimes you need that little break.

“We had a couple of Capital One Cup games and extra times, and we had to play five Championship games. It takes its toll a little bit.

“What we know that our squad is growing. We had another reserve team game, it was a good outing against Bournemouth and we won 5-0.

“We know that our squad’s getting bigger because we’ve got more to choose from as they get nearer to what we’re looking for, and that includes the new ones.

“They’re getting fitter, mentally sharper and physically sharper because they’re realising what it takes to compete in the Championship.”

Gardner, meanwhile, can only sit out the action - but he is confident that he will make a full recovery: “I have to remain positive and focus fully on my recovery programme, which I am told can take anywhere between four and six months.

“The important thing is that footballers have no problem in returning to action after such an injury but the frustration is the time involved. I want to be back as soon as possible.”