Sheffield Wednesday: Owls facing Steaua test

Ex-Steaua defender Dan Petrescu, right,  in action for Chelsea against  Andy Booth and the Owls
Ex-Steaua defender Dan Petrescu, right, in action for Chelsea against Andy Booth and the Owls
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Wednesday are moving up in the world as they head to St George’s Park for Saturday’s opening pre-season friendly.

Opponents Steaua Bucharest are Romanian champions and one of the top sides in Europe.

St George’s is the FA’s world-class centre for football training and development, at Burton-on-Trent.

The site covers 330 acres of landscaped parkland and has 11 outdoor pitches, a training pitch, a full-sized indoor pitch, medical, sports science and football education facilities, and two hotels.

It is also the training base for all the England squads.

Friendly matches in Britain are part of Steaua’s preparations for their Champions League campaign.

They beat Scottish club Livingston 4-1 on Sunday and Notts County 2-0 at St George’s behind closed doors on Tuesday.

The match against the Owls is private, so no spectators will be admitted.

Steaua kick off their Champions League programme with a home first-round qualifying tie against Macedonian outfit Skopje a week on Tuesday, and the second leg is a week later.

Livingston manager Richie Burke says that playing against a side of Steaua’s calibre was always going to be a test: “They were a class apart, but we acquitted ourselves quite well,” he said.

Notts County boss Chris Kiwomya said: “It was all about a workout for the lads and they got that with Steaua Bucharest, who are a very good team.”

None of the Romanians’ squad is well known in England. But Dan Petrescu was a former Steaua player when the Owls signed him from Genoa for £1.3m in 1994. The Romania international right back was sold to Chelsea for £2.6m, 14 months later.

Wednesday’s public senior friendlies are at Stockport next Tuesday, 7.45pm; Scunthorpe the following Saturday, 3.0; in Portugal against Braga and Hull on July 16 and 20, both 8.0; Rangers at home on Wednesday, July 24, 7.45; and Chesterfield away on Saturday the 27th, 3.0.

The Owls’ home Championship match against Huddersfield on Saturday, November 23, has been brought forward to 12.15pm for live coverage by Sky.

Meanwhile, ex-Wednesday winger Etienne Esajas has been taken on trial at Scunthorpe, whose manager Brian Laws brought him to Hillsborough.

Laws said: “If we can get him anywhere near what he was at Sheffield Wednesday, playing in the Championship, he will be exciting.

“He’s drifted during the past couple of seasons, so we’ve said we’ll see where he is. I’m happy to have a look at him, but there is no guarantee of any offer.”