SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Owls can learn from the Fulham blueprint

In-form striker: Chris O'Grady makes his mark against Millwall
In-form striker: Chris O'Grady makes his mark against Millwall
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OWLS boss Dave Jones jokes that Wednesday could be aided by inside information as they prepare for tonight’s Capital One Cup tie against Fulham.

The Owls new IT match analyst, Joseph Simmonds, is the son of the Cottagers’ chief scout, Barry Simmonds. Joseph was appointed by the Owls in the summer when they overhauled their system for spotting and analysing players and also took on new scouts.

“If we don’t know what Fulham have got then nobody will, because we’ve employed their chief scout’s son as our analyst, not for that reason - it just happened that way” said Jones,.

It is a tongue in cheek idea, of course, when Jones suggests that Wednesday might receive such unorthodox aid.

He and his assistant, Paul Wilkinson, already know enough about Fulham to hold them in some esteem and to regard them as as role models.

“They’ve always had good players - they don’t get many wrong,” says the Owls boss. “The reason is they can’t afford to.

“We look at the way they scout, what they do and everything else. They’re the sort of club you pick things up from.

“Wilko and I have a good relationship with Fulham and their staff behind the scenes, because of things we’ve done in the past with them.

“”We’ve used their training ground when our teams have been playing in London.

“We know how well organised and prudent they are when they bring players in and in what they do.”

Jones believes that the Cottagers, an established Premier League club, are an example to those outfits who are not among the very rich.

“They’re a great role model, because of the finances: they don’t get big gates, because of the issue with the ground,” he said.

“They’re one of the clubs you look at - the way they run their scouting system, the way they analyse, the medical side, and their training ground, which isn’t too different from ours.

“Two major differences between us? We’re not in the Premier League, and we have a bigger ground.”

Jones is keeping everyone guessing about what sort of side he will pick for tonight’s clash.

Gary Megson was one of the managers who selected picked a below-full-strength team in this competition last season. But all managers argue that whenever they pick a team it is one they believe is capable of winning.

There is a case for Jones fielding virtually his strongest possible side, as he did in the cup first round at Oldham; there could also be case for him giving games to players who maybe need them - for example, new full-backs Kieran Lee and Joe Mattock, who have hardly been involved so far.

And there has been little or no game time in the last couple of matches for forwards Nejc Pecnik and Chris Maguire.

There is also an interesting selection decision to made up front. Jones recalled Gary Madine on Saturday and left out Chris O’Grady. But the Owls manager reversed the switch in the second half and felt it paid off, with O’Grady “rattling” and chasing down the centre-halves and helping to turn the game back Wednesday’s way.

O’Grady also starred in the first round at Oldham, going on as a sub, scoring twice and showing form that helped him to earn him a place for the start of the Championship.

Jones will also have to decide whether three games in a week would be a bit much for Rodri, as he tries to get used to the pace of the English game.