Sheffield Wednesday: Owls keen to start on front foot against play-off rivals Reading

Jaap Stam
Jaap Stam
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David Jones is urging his Owls teammates to start on the front foot in their crunch clash with Reading tonight.

Carlos Carvalhal’s men, who are expected to be without Fernando Forestieri, Sam Hutchinson and Almen Abdi due to injury, will leapfrog the Royals into fifth position with a win at Hillsborough.

Midfield schemer Jones says they know where Reading’s strengths lie but believes the onus is on the Owls to take the game to them from the off.

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He told The Star: “I think everybody knows their role in Reading’s team. They seem to have grown as the season has gone on with their style of play.

“We have a game plan of which we are aware of Reading but we don’t want to concentrate too much on them.

David Jones

David Jones

“We want to enforce our style of play on them. We are playing at home and it is up to us dictate the game to them.”

The 32-year-old has spoken of the importance of the players getting the crowd going.

“At Hillsborough, we need to get the crowd behind us and give them something to cheer about,” he said. “We need to start with a high tempo and really show everyone we are on the front foot.

“I think that’s what the crowd want as they can get behind that. When they see people closing down, I think they feel they can get behind that and, as we have seen all season, when that happens, the place is rocking with the big crowds. We have our game plan and we will be looking to impose that on Reading.”

Jaap Stam

Jaap Stam

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Since the start of February, Reading’s form has tailed off. Jaap Stam’s side, who beat the Owls 2-1 in the reverse fixture, have accrued just nine points from a possible 24.

The Royals head to South Yorkshire looking to halt a run of three consecutive defeats on the road.

Jones said: “Jaap has done a great job. I didn’t know his background in coaching before he came to Reading but obviously, as a player, he had a fantastic career.

“He is doing a great job and they have been a very good team this year.

“Reading will be a threat to us but we are totally aware of them and know we are going to have to be on top of our game to stop them.”

Only four points separate fourth-placed Leeds United and Fulham, who missed the chance to move into the play-off positions after being held to a draw with lowly Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday.

“We have to concentrate on ourselves,” said Jones. “It is in our hands.

“We have nine massive games. We need to take care of business and not rely on anyone else.

“It is quite tight in terms of points.

“Every year, you see surprises and teams who come from nowhere to make a push for the play-offs or automatic places.

“We are looking ahead at what’s above us and trying to catch them.”

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